- Divers and rescue workers in Thailand have begun what could be the final push to free four boys and their soccer coach still trapped in a cave in the country's remote north, according to a Thai Navy official with knowledge of the operational details.
Four boys were rescued from the underground caves on Sunday, bringing the total number of recovered children to eight.
But although the eight were rescued, there were concerns they may have contracted an illness while in the cave.
The boys went missing after football practice with their 25-year-old coach on 23 June.
Another two more boys left the cave complex a short time later followed by the fourth boy.
The Associated Press reports that the families of the boys "were being kept at a distance because of fears of infection and the emaciated-looking boys were eating a rice-based porridge because they were still too weak to take regular food, authorities said". Musk said the submarine is expected to arrive in Thailand around 11 p.m. Monday, local time.
In a briefing just before noon, local time, mission chief Narongsak Osotanakorn - who has become the worldwide face of the rescue effort - said 19 divers (up from 18 on Sunday and Monday) would participate in the final push to bring the unprecedented operation to its conclusion.
The first 4 boys who were rescued the other day, aged between 12 and 16, are now allowed to eat normal food once again.
The Thai rescue effort has been assisted by experts from around the world, and the death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday underscored the dangers of the mission.
The leaders overseeing the desperate and risky rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave labyrinth in northern Thailand were only half joking when they quipped that success was in the hands of the rain god Phra Pirun.
Narongsak said he was grateful for Musk's support but the equipment was impractical for the rescue mission.
The eccentric inventor had hoped the sub - built from spare rocket parts and named Wild Board after the stranded children's soccer team - could be used in the rescue.
Thailand's prime minister welcomed Musk into the cave complex late Monday, with the American later tweeting a standing offer of a mini-submarine escape pod to help the remaining five leave the tunnels.
The second group of four rescued on Monday are aged 12 to 14.
Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osattanakorn said the second phase began at 11 a.m. and authorities "hope to hear good news in the next few hours".
Onlookers watch and cheer as ambulances deliver the rescued boys to a hospital in Chiang Rai on Sunday. They were discovered nine days later by two British volunteer rescue divers.
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