NEW YORK (CBSMiami/CNN) – Rescue divers have brought the final boys and their soccer coach out a cave in Thailand, where they have been trapped for more than two weeks.
Nineteen divers entered the cave at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday (11 p.m. Monday ET), as officials said they planned to bring out all the remaining members of the soccer team, their 25-year-old coach and four experts who have been by their side since they were found on a rocky ledge early last week.
“I hope all four kids… the coach, and the doctor and three SEALs will be all out today,” Former Chiang Rai governor and rescue mission commander Narongsak Osotthanakorn told reporters Tuesday.
The boys were exploring the caves on June 23 with their coach when they were trapped inside by heavy seasonal rains. Tuesday’s operation was expected to take longer than the two previous operations, due to larger the number of people still inside the cave, according to the Facebook page of the Royal Thai Navy SEALs.
“Today is 10 July. It will be longer than previous ones,” the post says in Thai and English. “We will celebrate together finally. Hooyah!”
All eight boys rescued on the first two days are being treated in an isolation ward in a Chiang Rai hospital. Medical officials told reporters that they’re healthy, fever-free, mentally fit and “seem to be in high spirits.”
Dr. Jedsada Chokedamrongsook, the permanent secretary of the Thai Health Ministry, said the first group of boys taken out on Sunday was aged 14 to 16. Their body temperatures were very low when they emerged, and two are suspected of having lung inflammation.
Families of the first four have been able to see their children through a glass window, Chokedamrongsook said. They were also able to talk on the phone. They’ll be allowed to enter the room if tests show the boys are free of infection.
The second group freed on Monday were aged 12 to 14. One had a very slow heartbeat but had responded well to treatment, Chokedamrongsook said. The hospital has sent test samples from the boys to a lab in Bangkok.
Authorities will likely look for signs of Histoplasmosis, also known as “cave disease,” an infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings, according to the Mayo Clinic.
They are all likely to stay in the hospital for seven days due to their weakened immune systems.
(©2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report.)