Rescue teams freed four more members of a youth soccer team who had been trapped deep inside a flooded cave in Thailand Monday, after four boys were rescued Sunday.
Thirteen members of the junior soccer team – including 12 children and their coach – have been trapped in the Tham Luang cave for more than two weeks. Four children and the coach remain inside the cave.
The group was led by 25-year-old coach Ekapol Chantawong, and includes 12 team members ranging in age from 11 to 16.
A diving team first located the children on July 2, nine days after they went missing.
A large-scale rescue operation was launched Sunday to bring the entire team out of the cave. The boys and their coach were given diving lessons in preparation for the dangerous journey through the treacherous waters.
Four boys were rescued from the cave on Sunday, with expert divers helping the children navigate their way through the tight passages of the flooded cave in near-total darkness.
The first rescue attempt was cut short, however, after authorities were forced to spend hours replenishing the search and rescue teams' air tanks.
On Monday, divers began the second rescue attempt. A fifth child was successfully guided out of the cave. Less than two hours later, three more boys escaped the cave.
One of the children was seen being carried away on a stretcher, CNN reported.
The second rescue attempt was also cut short after the four boys were rescued Monday after the air tanks needed to be replenished again.
Officials in Thailand say the full rescue mission could take up to four days to complete, and could be complicated by stormy weather forecast for the area.
Five Thai divers and thirteen foreign divers are participating in the rescue mission. Former Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osotthanakorn said that the same eighteen divers took part in the rescue on both Sunday and Monday.
"All conditions are still as good as they were yesterday,” Osotthanakorn told a news conference. “The boys’ strength, the plan — today we are ready like before. And we will do it faster because we are afraid of the rain.”
Each child is accompanied by two divers during the journey out of the cave, which involves swimming through narrow, dark tunnels with sudden turns and twists.
The rescue was considered critical due to falling oxygen levels in the cave as well as the new rainfall which is expected this week and would cause the cave to flood even further.
The danger the boys and their rescuers faced was underscored when a former Thai Navy Seal involved in the rescue effort died after running out of oxygen on Friday.