Rescuers have freed four boys trapped in Thai cave

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Onlookers watch and cheer as ambulances deliver the rescued boys to a hospital in Chiang Rai on Sunday.

Rescuers resumed preparations on Tuesday for a third rescue operation deep into a cave complex in northern Thailand to free four remaining boys and their soccer coach in a race against time and monsoon weather.

A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALS guided the boys during a nine-hour operation through almost 4 km of sometimes submerged, pitch-dark channels from where they have been trapped for more than a fortnight.

Officials have generally waited hours to confirm rescues. A massive worldwide search operation was launched and it took 10 days to locate the boys, who had taken shelter on a dry slope deep in the complex. "Everyone is in high spirits and is happy to get out".

Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said Tuesday's intricate and high-risk operation began just after 10am local time and involves 19 divers. He said a medic and three SEALS in the cave, who've been looking after those trapped, will also come out.

So far eight boys aged between 12 and 16 have been led out of the cave system by a team of expert divers over two days.

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Four were rescued Sunday and another four were rescued on Monday.

Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass barrier.

The 8 boys who have already been taken from the cave by diver are thought to be largely healthy after their ordeal, despite having been trapped inside the cave with little food or water for more than two weeks.

The group had gone for a trek when heavy rains trapped them in a dark, cramped chamber 2.5 miles inside in the Tham Luang Cave system.

Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around their hospital beds.

A Thai army commander said the operation went "smoothly" but warned the next phase "will depend on all conditions" with rain forecast for the coming week.

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Authorities say expected rains may force a complex rescue quicker than first thought. The first day we spent 11 hours, yesterday we spent nine hours [from the start of the mission to the final rescue]. Eight children have been rescued.

As the minutes stretched into hours under the hot sun in this corner of north-western Thailand bordering Myanmar, hopes were rising that news of a third successful rescue by the so-called "all-star" team of Thai and worldwide divers - which included as many as eight Australians in support roles - was imminent.

Musk posted videos and photos of divers testing out the submarine in a Los Angeles pool.

The eccentric inventor had hoped the sub - built from spare rocket parts and named Wild Board after the stranded children's soccer team - could be used in the rescue.

The urgent and unsafe effort has involved the boys diving through the cave's tight and twisting passages, guided by experienced divers.

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