World Media

3rd Thai cave rescue mission underway

General of the Public Health Ministry Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, Dr. Jesada Chokedamrongsuk and director of Chiang Rai Hospital Dr. Chaiwet Thanapaisan

"Early this morning Harry's father passed away here in Adelaide. after they'd all come out of the cave", said on Wednesday, Andrew Pearce of rescue service MedSTAR in the Australian city, where Harris, also known as Harry, is a specialist.

Boys from the soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave covered in hypothermia blankets react to the camera in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal.

On Sunday, expert divers brought out the first four of the 13 who were stranded in the huge and waterlogged Tham Luang complex.

Witnesses say the boys freed Monday were treated at a make-shift hospital at the site, before being taken to a local hospital. Last Friday, one former Thai Navy Seal died while placing oxygen tanks deep within the caves.

People across Thailand, and the world, have cheered the rescue operation, including at the Mae Sai Prasitsart school where six of the trapped boys are students.

A witness near the cave told the Reuters news agency that medical workers carried four people to emergency rescue vehicles.

Two more boys are rescued from the cave. But officials waited several hours before confirming their rescue. Tuesday's operation began just after 10am.

They are still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week to undergo tests, officials said.

Graphic: The Thai cave complex where four boys and their soccer coach remain trapped is expansive, stretching about 10 km.

The operation on Tuesday moved quickly, raising hopes that all 12 boys and their adult coach from the Wild Boars soccer team would be at the surface by the end of the day.

"It was a complete, unexpected shock", Pearce, the organisation's clinical services director, told reporters.

He said two of them possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally "healthy and smiling".

They are all likely to stay in hospital for seven days due to their weakened immune systems.

The second group to be rescued on Monday have low body temperature and slow heartbeat.

Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass isolation barrier, and Jesada said doctors may let the boys walk around their beds on Tuesday. Heavy rain has struck the region intermittently over the last three days and further downpours could set back draining efforts at the cave. They talk normally. No fever.

Described in a South Australia Ambulance Service statement as a "quiet and kind man" who "didn't think twice about offering his support on this mission", Harris was lauded for his work throughout the rescue effort.