The acting governor of Chiang Rai state, Narongsak Osottanakorn, led the rescue operation. Having completed this section, the boys are then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who help assist them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they can wade through.
The boys and their coach went missing after football practice on 23 June, setting out on an adventure to explore the cave complex near the border with Myanmar and celebrate a boy's birthday.
British divers found the group of 13, hungry and huddled in darkness on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber several kilometres inside the complex, on Monday last week.
But Thai officials, acutely aware that the boys could be trapped for months by monsoon rains that would swell waters in the cave system, seized a window of opportunity provided by relatively mild weather. The rainfall causes water levels inside the cave to rise.
Cave-diving experts had warned it was potentially too risky to dive the youngsters out. None of the boys had ever dived before.
Boys from the youth soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave greet members of the Thai rescue team in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal.
"I have one [of] the world's best engineering teams, who normally design spaceships and spacesuits, working on this thing 24 hours a day", Musk wrote in an email to Dick Stanton, one of the leaders of the search and rescue effort in Thailand, on July 8.
They had to guide their charges through passages as narrow as a couple of feet, weighed down by bulky equipment. He ran out of air while trying to swim out of the cave.
Four boys were rescued from the underground caves on Sunday, bringing the total number of recovered children to eight.
A spokesperson from the Thai public health authority said that they were in "high spirits" and also claimed that as they are football players, they have high immune systems. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha was scheduled to make a second visit to the scene late on Monday and the president of soccer's governing body, FIFA, Gianni Infantino, today invited the boys to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday if they make it out of the cave in time. He said they would likely be in the hospital for at least a week.
The first 4 boys who were rescued the other day, aged between 12 and 16, are now allowed to eat normal food once again. A nutritionist is monitoring their diet and has recommended that they eat nothing spicy or salty - despite the boys' cravings for spicy basil pork and rice and grilled pork. George Grow adapted his story for Learning English, with additional information from the Associated Press and the Reuters news agency.
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