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The Latest: All 12 boys, coach rescued from flooded Thai cave

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MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) -

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) - All 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, the Thai navy SEALs said Tuesday, ending an 18-day ordeal that riveted people around the world.
  
The SEALs said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely Tuesday.
  
They said they were waiting for a medic and three SEALs who stayed with the boys in their dark refuge deep inside the cave complex to come out.
  
Eight of the trapped boys had been brought out of the cave by divers on Sunday and Monday.
  
The plight of the boys and their coach has riveted Thailand and much of the world - from the heart-sinking news that 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 cave that became flooded by monsoon rains while they were exploring it after a soccer practice on June 23.
  
The eight boys brought out by divers over the previous two days were doing well and were in good spirits, a senior health official said.
 

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8:20 p.m.
  
An aide to the Thai Navy SEAL commander says four boys were brought out of the flooded cave in northern Thailand on Monday and the ongoing rescue operation is over for the day.
  
The aide, Sitthichai Klangpattana, didn't comment on the boys' health or say how well the operation has gone.
  
A total of eight of the 12 boys have now been brought out of the treacherous cave system by divers, including four who were brought out on Sunday, when the rescue operation began.
  
The boys and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped for more than two weeks after heavy rains flooded the kilometers- long cave network made up of caverns connected by tight passages.

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7:50 p.m.
  
A total of four ambulances have left the area around the flooded cave in northern Thailand where members of a youth soccer team have been trapped for more than two weeks, suggesting eight of the 13 trapped people have now been extracted.
  
Thai officials have been tight-lipped about the rescue operation, and would not comment on how many people were removed Monday.
  
On Sunday, teams of divers brought out four of the trapped boys but waited several hours before confirming their safe rescue.
  
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7:30 p.m.
  
Two more ambulances have been seen leaving the site of a flooded cave in northern Thailand where young members of a soccer team and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped for more than two weeks.
  
That brings to three the number of ambulances that have left the site Monday during the second day of a high-risk operation to bring the boys out of a labyrinth cave system made up of tight passageways and flooded chambers.
  
On Sunday, teams of divers brought out four of the trapped boys but waited several hours before confirming their safe rescue.
  
Authorities have been tight-lipped about the progress of Monday's operation.
  
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6:10 p.m.
  
Thai authorities are being tight-lipped about who was inside an ambulance seen leaving the site of a flooded cave Monday, as they were the night before when four of the 13 people trapped inside the underground complex were rescued.
  
Multiple calls to senior government officials and military personnel leading the operation to rescue the members of the youth soccer team rang unanswered Monday evening.
  
On Sunday, officials waited until several hours after the rescued boys had been transported to hospitals to announce their rescue.
  
As of Monday morning, eight boys and their coach remained in the cave where they have been trapped by floods since June 23.
  
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5:40 p.m.
  
Thai public television has aired live video of a medivac helicopter landing close to a hospital in the city of Chiang Rai, near the site of the cave where a youth soccer team has been trapped for more than two weeks.
  
Medics appeared to remove one person on a stretcher but hid the person's identity behind multiple white umbrellas. An ambulance was seen leaving the scene immediately afterward early Monday evening.
  
Less than an hour earlier, an ambulance with flashing lights had left the cave complex, hours after the start of the second phase of an operation to rescue the soccer team.
  
As of Monday morning, nine people remained trapped in the cave, including the 12-member team's coach, after four boys were rescued on Sunday, the first day of the rescue operation.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
An ambulance with flashing lights has left a cave complex in northern Thailand hours after the start of the second phase of an operation to rescue a youth soccer team trapped inside the flooded cave for more than two weeks.
  
After the ambulance was seen leaving the complex at around 5 p.m. Monday, a helicopter took off. Authorities have said helicopters were ready to take cave evacuees to a hospital. It was unclear who was inside the ambulance or the helicopter.
  
Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the rescue, had said the second phase began at 11 a.m. Monday and authorities "hope to hear good news in the next few hours."
  
Nine people remained trapped in the cave, including the team's coach after four boys were rescued on Sunday, the first day of the rescue operation.
  
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3 p.m.
  
Thai authorities say they have resumed operations to rescue members of a boys' soccer team trapped in a flooded cave after successfully getting four of the boys out Sunday.
  
They said the four boys already rescued are hungry but in good health in a hospital.
  
The second operation started at 11 a.m. local time Monday. It takes several hours. 
  
Officials said at a news conference that the parents of the rescued boys, whose names have not been released, have not yet been allowed to have physical contact with them, pending more extensive examination of their physical condition.
  
Eight boys are still inside the cave and along with the team coach. The operation to get them out was supposed to resume only after new oxygen tanks could be placed along their route of escape, which is partially underwater. 
  
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11:35 a.m.
  
Australia's foreign minister says 19 Australian personnel are involved in the Thailand cave rescue operation including a doctor who's played an essential part in assessing which boys can leave and in what order.
  
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Australia that anesthetist and experienced cave diver Richard Harris is working with the Thai medical team inside the cave "to make the decisions about the order in which the boys were to be extracted."
  
Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks. Crews will have to replenish air tanks along the route before rescuing the others.
  
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10:35 a.m.
  
Thailand's interior minister says the same divers who took part in Sunday's rescue of four boys trapped in a flooded cave will also conduct the next operation as they know the cave conditions and what to do.
  
In comments released by the government, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said officials were meeting Monday morning about the next stage of the operation and how to extract the remaining nine people from the cave in the country's north.
  
Anupong said divers need to place more air canisters along the underwater route to where the boys and their coach have been trapped since June 23. He said that process can take several hours.
  
He said the boys rescued Sunday are strong and safe but need to undergo detailed medical checks.
  
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8:45 a.m.
  
Rescuers at a Thai cave where eight boys and their soccer coach remain trapped have awoken to cloudy skies, after a night in which heavy monsoon rains lashed the mountainous region for several hours.
  
It was not immediately clear Monday how the overnight rains had impacted water levels inside the flooded cave. Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand's far north had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and dangerous plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.
  
Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week.
  
Four of the boys were rescued on Sunday, and authorities said the next phase could begin any time within a 10-hour window that began about 7 a.m. Monday.
  
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8 a.m.
  
Elon Musk's Space X rocket company is testing a "kid-sized submarine" that could be sent to help boys trapped in a flooded Thailand cave.
  
Musk posted videos on Twitter of the aluminum sub being tested at a swimming pool Sunday midafternoon California time. If the tests are successful, the sub would be placed on a 17-hour flight to Thailand.
  
Four of the boys were rescued on Sunday, and authorities are now working to replenish air tanks along the cave's treacherous exit route. They say rescuing the eight remaining boys and their soccer coach could take up to four days.
  
A spokesman for Musk's Boring Co. tunneling unit, which has four engineers at the cave, has said Thai officials requested the device, which could potentially help the children through narrow, flooded cave passageways.
  
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2:10 a.m.
  
Officials say it could take up to four days to complete the rescue of eight boys and their soccer coach from inside a northern Thailand cave.
  
Authorities temporarily stopped their efforts Monday to replenish air tanks along the cave's treacherous exit route.
  
Expert divers on Sunday managed to get four of the 12 boys to safety. They were quickly transported to a hospital in the town of Chiang Rai, the provincial capital.
  
The names of the rescued boys were not released.
  
Rescuers have been navigating a dangerous and complicated plan to get the children out under the threat of heavy rain and rising water underground.
  
The entire group had been trapped for more than two weeks.

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP)  Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks, as a dangerous and complicated plan unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.

Eight of boys and the coach remained inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex as authorities paused the international effort until Monday to replenish air tanks along the treacherous exit route.

But the success of the initial evacuation raised hopes that all will be out soon, although officials said could it take up to four days to complete.

VIDEO: In Thailand, rescuers are working round-the-clock to save 12 boys and their soccer coach who have been trapped inside a partly flooded cave for almost two weeks.

VIDEO: Volunteers pour in to help Thai boys stuck in cave

"The operation went much better than expected," said Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is overseeing the mission.

He told reporters that four boys were brought out and taken to the hospital in the town of Chiang Rai, the provincial capital, for evaluation, and the next phase of the operation will resume after about 10-20 hours.

The names of the rescued boys were not released.

His announcement, at a news conference more than an hour after helicopters and ambulances were seen rushing from the cave area, drew cheers and applause.

Narongsak had dubbed Sunday to be "D-day" as the complicated effort was launched in the morning.

He said 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy SEALs were taking part in the key leg of the rescue: taking the boys from where they have been sheltering and through dark, tight and twisting passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.

Two divers were to accompany each of the boys, all of whom have been learning to dive only since July 2, when the first searchers found them.

Cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

But Narongsak said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels in recent days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation. Those conditions won't last if the rain resumes, he said.

After the four boys were removed from the cave, heavy rain started falling.

Authorities have said the monsoons could cause water to rise in the cave. That along with dwindling oxygen levels, added to the urgency of getting the team out. Earlier efforts to pump water out of the cave have been set back by heavy downpours.

Narongsak said Saturday that experts told him new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to just 10 square meters (108 square feet).

The next phase of the operation would start Monday after rescue teams replenish the supply of oxygen tanks along the route to ensure the safety of the journey, which takes several hours.

On Sunday night, Thai navy SEALs posted a celebratory note on their Facebook page, saying: "Have sweet dreams everyone. Good night. Hooyah."

The boys and their coach, whose team is known as the Wild Boars, became stranded when they were exploring the cave after a practice game on June 23.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape route and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.

The ordeal has riveted Thailand and captured the world's attention. The search and rescue operation has involved dozens of international experts and rescuers, including a U.S. military team.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday: "The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!"

To ensure a clear path for getting evacuees to the hospital and to safeguard their privacy, authorities ordered the media to move away from the cave before the boys came out.

The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were made public Saturday. The notes were sent out with divers who made an 11-hour, back-and-forth journey.

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine. I've told Yod to get ready to take me out for fried chicken. With love."

"Don't be worried," wrote another boy, Mick. "I miss everyone. Grandpa, Uncle, Mom, Dad and siblings, I love you all. I'm happy being here inside, the navy SEALS have taken good care. Love you all."

One particularly touching note from another boy said: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry. Although, don't forget to set up my birthday party."

In a letter of his own, coach Ekapol Chanthawong apologized to the boys' parents for the ordeal.

"To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize to the parents," he wrote.

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