Earlier today, an ambulance with flashing lights leaves the cave rescue area in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.
Image: AP

Rescue teams working in northern Thailand have pulled four more boys from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex, raising the total number of rescued boys to eight.

After nearly two agonizing weeks in Thailand, things are starting to look brighter for the 12 trapped boys and their 25-year-old coach. Four members of the Wild Boar soccer team were rescued on Sunday, and, as CNN reports, another four were pulled out today. That leaves four boys and the coach, who are going to have wait a bit longer to be rescued as operations have been suspended for the day.

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The first boy to emerge today left the scene in a helicopter just before 4:30pm local time. He was taken to a hospital in Chiang Rai for a medical evaluation. Two more boys were escorted from the cave a short time later, followed by a fourth. Thai officials said the boys were hungry but are in good health, according to The Telegraph. All eight of the rescued boys have been placed in quarantine to prevent them from contracting infections while in their weakened state, and to prevent others from coming into contact with any potential pathogens they may have contracted while trapped deep within the cave system.

The boys and their coach ventured into the caves on June 23, but they became trapped when flood waters blocked the route back to the entrance. Expert divers found the team huddled on a steep rock some 2.5 miles (4 km) from the mouth of the cave on July 2. On Friday, July 6, a former Royal Thai Navy special operations diver, Saman Gunan, died while delivering oxygen tanks to the cave, underscoring just how dangerous it is to swim through the submerged sections.

To get the boys out, rescuers have had to equip them with full face-masks, and guide them through narrow passageways filled with water. The first 0.6 miles (1 km) is proving to be the most challenging, requiring the rescue divers to swim with the boys through tight sections while holding their oxygen tanks in front of them. After that, it gets considerably easier, as the boys are handed to a separate rescue team who helps them navigate the remainder of the cave, most of which can be traversed by wading through water.

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Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said rescuers need about 10 hours to re-populate the route with oxygen tanks, and that many of the divers who participated in the first round of evacuations on Sunday will return to save the others. As the Guardian reports, officials said they’re going to stick with the four extractions per day strategy. Should all go according to plan, the remaining four children and the coach are expected to be out by Wednesday.

Family members told CNN that the names of the boys who have been rescued have not been disclosed, nor have the boys seen their parents. Family members have agreed to stay in the cave until all of the boys and the coach have been pulled out.

This story is not over yet, but things are finally starting to look promising. Finger’s crossed that the next few days go equally as smoothly.

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[Guardian, CNN, Telegraph]