Thai basil pork rice is first meal choice for rescued footballers

Onlookers watch and cheer during the rescue operation

Onlookers watch and cheer during the rescue operation

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. Gen. Bancha Duriyapan told a news conference, punctuated by applause from the dozens of Thai and foreign journalists and others in attendance.

As for the boys who have been rescued, they are in isolation and being monitored at a hospital for infection.

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 unsafe plan for the boys aged between 11 and 16 and their coach to dive out of the cave. Narongsak on Monday said their identities were being protected out of respect for the families of those still trapped inside the cave.

American tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has proposed a mini-submarine to save the boys trapped inside a flooded Thai cave, floating the idea on social media while linking it to his space exploration business.

"The medical team is considering whether to let closest relative visit them", Osotthanakorn said.

There were several concerns that prompted authorities to move forward with the plan to dive the boys out.

So far, rescues have been spaced out to allow for the divers to rest and the oxygen tank to be restocked.

Four boys were successfully rescued from the Tham Laung cave area on Sunday in a delicate and lengthy operation.

Elite divers began a rescue mission on Sunday, successfully escorting four of them out, and were aiming to extract the others swiftly before fresh monsoon rains made escape impossible.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was expected to visit the cave site later Monday, after first travelling south to Phuket, where a boat capsizing resulted in 42 deaths, mostly tourists from China.

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".

Families of the four boys who were rescued on Sunday evening have not yet seen them since they were rushed to the Chiangrai Prachanukroh hospital, about 60 miles from the cave. The Thai authorities have been pumping out water from the cave system ever since locating the missing soccer team, but that wasn't enough to remove all the water.

The unsafe bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - got going again hours earlier on Monday after a break to replenish oxygen supplies and make other preparations deep inside the cave complex.

"I'm hoping for good news today", he said.

Thai authorities revealed that the first phase was executed "smoothly" and the boys who had been evacuated were in "good health".

The potential for rising water and the dwindling oxygen levels added to the urgency of getting the team out. Earlier efforts to pump out water from the cave have been set back every time there has been a heavy downpour. "Everyone safe", the Thai Navy SEALs posted on their Facebook page, referring to the name of the soccer club.

The fate of the boys and their coach has gripped Thailand and drawn attention from around the world.

Rescue efforts are already underway, however, and may be complete by the time Musk's submarine arrives.

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".