09/07/2018 11:22 BST | Updated 09/07/2018 16:27 BST

Thailand Cave Rescue Latest: More Schoolboys Are Saved

The rescue operation is ongoing.

The eighth boy from a group of 12 who have been trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand for more than two weeks has been rescued.

It comes a day after four of the boys were brought to the surface. Each boy was accompanied by two divers in an arduous journey through a mile of underwater tunnels. 

The rescued children have been complaining they are hungry and demanding fried rice, Narongsak Osottanakorn, the head of the rescue operation told reporters. 

He said the health of the five people remaining in the cave was “still good” and  rescuers would resume an operation to retrieve them in about 20 hours’ time.

Rescuers stretcher what is believed to be one of the rescued boys to a helicopter 
Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters
Rescued schoolboys are moved from a helicopter to an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai

Medical staff involved in the rescue mission said their first assessments when the boys arrive at hospital will focus on their breathing, signs of hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as ‘cave disease’ which is caused by bat and bird droppings and can be fatal if untreated and allowed to spread to other parts of the body.

The Thai official leading the rescue operation, which has involved two elite British divers, said it has gone “better than expected” and that the healthiest boys have been taken out first.

Heavy rain hit the area on Sunday night, with storms forecast throughout the week for the northern Chiang Rai province. Meteorologists estimated a 60% chance of rain in the area on Monday.

Royal Thai Navy/AP
The boys have been trapped inside the cave for over two weeks now 

The entire operation to get all 12 boys and their football coach out of the cave could take two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said Thai army Major General Chalongchai Chaiyakam.

Rescuers have pumped millions of litres of water out of the cave network to try to extract the group through nearly a mile of tunnels.

Thai officials are not only racing against worsening weather, but also lowered oxygen levels in the underground complex.

Former Thai navy SEAL Saman Kunan passed out making the dive on Friday and died.

The boys, aged 11-16, and their coach, 25, were trapped inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai after a football game on June 23.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and they have been on a rocky shelf inside a cave chamber since.

Although weak, they are largely in good health, authorities have said.