Thailand cave rescue: Recap of afternoon's events as final mission officially underway

Police use umbrellas to cover a stretcher at a military airport in Chiang Rai

By last night, elite divers had managed to bring out eight members of the football team which included 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach.

All of the boys had shed a kilogram or two while trapped in the cave but were now able to get out of their hospital beds and walk around.

Thai officials started the rescue operation on Sunday as weather experts predicted more rain in the coming weeks.

The head of the operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said rescuers had learned from experience and were two hours faster in bringing the second batch of survivors out as scattered monsoon rains continued to risk flooding the tunnels with water.

Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Tesla and SpaceX, was in Thailand with engineers from his companies to offer their expertise in the rescue.

Musk said on Twitter: "Just returned from Cave 3".

As we enter the day three of the Thai cave rescue mission, the public health permanent secretary Dr Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, from the Ministry of Public Health and Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital, spoke to the media this morning (local time) about the health of the eight boys who have been rescued so far.

Four fellow teammates and their coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, remain inside, with hopes that they will be rescued on Tuesday.

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He said the last five survivors in the cave were in good health, adding that those who are now at the hospital could not eat fried rice yet because they will have to adjust themselves with the eating.

"The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems", Jesada said. Bancha Duriyapan told a news conference punctuated by applause from the dozens of Thai and foreign journalists and others in attendance. 'Doctors have told us we must be careful about the food that is given to them because they are fragile after starving for many days.

It was clear doctors were taking a cautious approach.

Still, health officials were wary of possible infections "because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave".

The rescue mission began on Sunday morning, almost a week since the 12 boys, aged 11-16, and their coach had been discovered on an embankment 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) inside the winding tunnels.

Four ambulances and a convoy of other vehicles arrived at the cave site Tuesday morning to prepare for the third phase of the rescue.

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