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Same divers to go into Thai cave again

Thailand Cave Search

The same who brought four of the 12 young trapped soccer players to freedom will again enter the flooded northern Thailand cave to continue the treacherous rescue effort.

Thailand's Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda issued a statement on Monday saying officials were meeting to discuss the next stage of the complex operation to rescue the remaining nine people trapped four kilometres inside the flooded cave in Chiang Rai.

Divers are continuing to place oxygen canisters along the underwater route to where the boys and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped since monsoonal rain blocked their exit from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23.

This process could take several hours, the statement said.

It comes after heavy rain fell overnight with grey skies greeting rescuers when they woke up on Monday morning to continue efforts to bring the team to safety. Meteorologists say there is a 60 per cent chance of further rain on Monday.

Cheers of joy and applause greeted four boys when they emerged from the cave on Sunday evening with their accompanying eight divers. The boys are still undergoing health checks at a provincial hospital and details on their condition is not yet known.

Rescuers were arriving back at the cave on Monday to prepare for day two of the complex operation which has attracted worldwide attention and involved expert cave divers from countries including the US, Australia, UK and China.

Chiang Rai's acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said after the first group of boys were successfully rescued, the divers would take a 10 to 20 hour pause in operations so scuba tanks could be replenished with oxygen.

The boys, many of whom are not confident swimmers, have been given training in scuba diving so they can navigate the flooded passageways, with one measuring just 38cm in diameter.

"The operation went much better than expected," Osatanakorn, the leader of the rescue mission, said on Sunday night.

The news comes as Elon Musk's Space X rocket company continues to test a "tiny kid-sized submarine" that it believes will be able to help free the children.

The mini-sub was being tested in California and, if successful, it will be flown on a 17-hour flight to Thailand, a spokesman for Musk's Boring Co. said, adding that Thai officials had requested the device.

A video of the testing has been posted on Twitter.

Six Australian Federal Police divers are supporting the Thai Navy in the mission, together with a liaison officer and interpreter.

The divers formed part of the 'daisy chain' of rescuers who led the four boys to the surface on Sunday.

A South Australian anaesthetist and experienced diver Richard Harris was part of the medical team that determined the boys' fitness to undertake the arduous four kilometre journey.

Cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

The death Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, underscored the risks. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route.

© AP 2018 Image Credit: Chiang Rai Public Relations Office via AP