2 more ambulances leave site of Thai cave

Thai soldiers prepare for the second day of an operation to bring football team out of Tham Luang cave complex

Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions, which both lasted several hours.

Giving an update on the four boys pulled from the cave Sunday, Narongsak said, "This morning, they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao" - a popular Thai rice dish of meat stir-fried with basil and chili peppers. He said the mission would resume within "10 to 20 hours". "We worked faster. I'm so happy", Narongsak said.

"The operation went much better than expected", mission head Narongsak Osottanakorn said on Sunday.

Finally, Elon Musk tasked SpaceX engineers with crafting a special tiny submarine that could be used during the rescue, and the tech guru says the device is operational.

The same elite divers involved in Sunday's rescue would conduct the next one, given their knowledge of the cave conditions, Thailand's interior minister said in a statement. "I've been involved in cave rescue for 30 years and I can not even think of one that was more complicated". The team and coach were exploring the cave after a practice game when heavy rainfall and flooding cut off their escape route out of the cave and prevented rescuers from finding them for nine days.

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.

The 12 boys, ages 11 to 16 and their coach had been trapped for more than two weeks.

The soccer team had been trapped in the underground cave network since June 23, with flash floods causing water levels to rise, making it hard to get out.

There was no immediate word on their conditions.

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But after the first four emerged late on Sunday afternoon, hopes began to rise of a fairy tale ending to the ordeal.

The fifth boy was taken by helicopter to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in the provincial capital Chiang Rai, while the sixth remained inside a medical tent before being moved. "We have to quarantine them for a little while due to fear of infection".

The names of the rescued boys have not been released out of respect for the families whose sons were still inside, and they have not been reunited with their own families, he added.

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

At the hospital in Chiang Rai, green canvas sheets had been put up to block the entrance from view. Somboon Sompiangjai, 38, the father of one of the trapped boys, said parents were told by rescuers ahead of Sunday's operation the "strongest children" would be brought out first.

A hospital spokesperson told media the priority was to make sure the children were safe.

The boys are said to be generally in good health but doctors are still evaluating whether they could have picked up any risky infections, such as the potentially lethal leptospirosis, while inside the damp cave for two weeks.

The cave complex is off-limits during the rainy season, which usually runs from May to October, when downpours can quickly flood it.

The president of soccer's governing body, FIFA, has invited the boys to the World Cup Final in Moscow on Sunday if they make it out in time.

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