Thai cave rescue: Operation resumes for remaining 9 who are trapped

Emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boy to be transported by ambulance

The extraction team began the unsafe operation at 10am local time and the families of the missing boys have been informed.

The operation to remove the boys could take three or four days, Third Region Army Deputy Commander Supachoke Thawatpeerachai said. But a father of one of the boys told Reuters parents "can't visit our boys in hospital" and that "we have not been told which child has been brought out".

Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn on Sunday said four of the team - affectionately dubbed by Thai social media Wild Boars 1,2,3,4 - were "safe" but released few details about their condition or identities.

Pictured, the treacherous rescue operation.

Meanwhile rescuers fed a kilometres-long air pipe into the cave to restore oxygen levels in the chamber where the team was sheltering with medics and divers.

Ambulances and helicopters are on standby to aid the remaining boys and their coach, who have been trapped underground for more than two weeks. He said that four boys were rescued in Sunday's effort.

"We're ready for the operation today", said Narongsak, who said the weather and the water levels in the cave are good.

In the week since the team was found alive, expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the mountain to waiting out the monsoon season and spending months inside the cave. Ten of the worldwide divers started the treacherous journey into the mountain, with the remaining three following four hours later at 2pm to operate as fresh back-up divers in the event of a crisis.

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Kittichok Kankeaw, a teammate of Nattawut Takamsai, one of the trapped boys, said he would try to assist his friend to catch up at school. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out while making the dive Friday and died.

Who are the boys and their coach?

Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week, the Associated Press reported. The boys who were removed were considered the weakest, reports said. Thai authorities have repeatedly warned that monsoon rains could rapidly reverse the huge effort that has seen more than 100 million litres of water pumped out of the cave to clear the way for rescuers and smooth the path for the boys.

The boys set out to explore the vast Tham Luang cave, which is known in the area as off-limits, after soccer practice on June 23. It's unlikely the nine in the cave are aware their teammates were rescued successfully, due to a lack of communication tools between them and the entrance, according to Ten News reporter Daniel Sutton.

The two spent time looking for sponsors and used the team to prove to the boys they could become something more than their small town would suggest - even professional athletes.

The ordeal has riveted Thailand and captured the world's attention.

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One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine".

"We, the Thai team and the worldwide team, will bring the Wild Boars home", referencing the boys' soccer team name. I'm happy being here inside, the navy SEALS have taken good care.

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