World

Eight now removed from flooded Thai cave

By AAP Newswire

The eighth member of a Thai soccer team has been pulled from a flooded cave on the second day of a huge rescue operation watched around the world.

He is the fourth member of the team to be pulled out on Monday and Thai navy officials say he - like the other boys - was put on a stretcher and taken to hospital by helicopter.

The boys are part of a soccer team trapped with their coach in the cave since June 23.

The first four boys in the team were rescued on Sunday and are in a stable condition in hospital.

A complex and dangerous rescue operation is underway, involving the boys - many of whom can't swim - diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages.

Authorities say the rescued boys are happy and in good health.

"This morning they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao," a local governor said, referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chili and basil and served over rice.

The first four boys were undergoing medical checks in hospital and were not yet allowed close contact with relatives due to fear of infections.

Relatives were able to see them through a glass partition, the governor said.

Ambulances at the hospital are on standby to receive the next batch of boys who are expected to be plucked from the cave.

Medical staff involved in the rescue mission say their first assessments when the boys arrive at the hospital will focus on their breathing, signs of hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as 'cave disease'.

The disease is caused by bat and bird droppings and can be fatal if untreated and allowed to spread to other parts of the body.

The first four rescued boys have been placed in a ward set aside specifically for the cave rescue, a source at the hospital said.

Authorities have said extracting the entire team from the cave could take up to four days.

Sunday's mission involved 13 foreign divers - including six Australians - and five Thai navy Seals.

Two divers accompanied each of the boys, all of whom have been learning to dive only since July 2, when searchers found them.