All 12 boys and football coach rescued from Thai cave

Mae Sai: All 12 boys and their football coach have been rescued from a Thai cave after an 18 day ordeal, the Thai Navy SEALs said in a Facebook post, adding they were "safe".

"All 12 'Wild Boars' and coach have been extracted from the cave," the post said, adding "all are safe" and signing off with a simple "Hooyah".

Four divers who stayed with the group were still to emerge, it added.

The plight of the boys and their coach has riveted Thailand and much of the world -- from the heart-sinking news they were missing to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers. They were trapped in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave that became flooded by monsoon rains while they were exploring it after a soccer practice on June 23.

At a news conference, Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food, though they can't yet eat spicy food.

Two of the boys possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally “healthy and smiling,” he said.

“The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems,” Dr Jedsada said. “Everyone is in high spirits and are happy to get out. But we will have a psychiatrist to evaluate them.”

It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, Dr Jedsada told a news conference.

Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass isolation barrier, and Dr Jedsada said doctors may let the boys walk around their beds Tuesday.

It was clear doctors were taking a cautious approach. Dr Jedsada said they were uncertain what type of infections the boys could face “because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave.”

If medical tests show no dangers, after another two days parents will be able to enter the isolation area dressed in sterilised clothing and staying 2 metres away from the boys, said Tosthep Bunthong, Chiang Rai Public Health Chief.

The second group of four rescued on Monday are aged 12 to 14.

At least nine ambulances and a convoy of other vehicles were at the cave site Tuesday.

Heavy rains in the morning cleared during the day, a reassuring sign for rescuers who have feared monsoon rains could imperil the rescue.

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