"All four boys have arrived at hospital, all are safe", Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters of those rescued on Monday. To get a sense of the overwhelming worldwide interest in the effort, the post attracted tens of thousands of likes and more than 10,000 comments within an hour.
There are now nine team members, including the 25-year-old coach, still trapped inside.
Eight boys and their coach remain trapped in the caves, with rescue operations now on hold after the first entry depleted resources.
Asked whether the remaining four "Wild Boars" team and their coach would come out at the same time in the next rescue effort, he said: "It depends on the plan".
Less than an hour earlier, an ambulance with flashing lights had left the cave complex, hours after the start of the second phase of an operation to rescue the soccer team.
The underwater escape option had been considered an absolute last resort but it became necessary when heavy monsoon rains were forecast, bringing with it the possibility of flooding the area where the boys were sheltering.
You can find live updates about the effort here and here.
None of the boys have scuba diving experience and experts have warned they could easily panic while swimming underwater in darkness.
Two divers accompanied each boy throughout the narrow cave passageways, guided by a rope. We will have to do the next mission as successfully as the one we did today.
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The four boys pulled from the cave Sunday in an urgent and risky operation that involved them diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages were happy and in good health, authorities said. The most touching note came from one whose name was not clear: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry".
Applause erupted as Mr Narongsak said he had met the children and their health is "perfect".
A little before 5pm local time (10am GMT) a fifth boy was reported rescued after a six-hour operation. Rescuers have been unable to extend a hose pumping oxygen all the way to where the boys are, but have brought them some oxygen tanks. Authorities have said the soccer players are being looked after by Thai navy SEALs, including medics, staying with them inside the cave.
"As all of us said, the main thing is we still need more than 20 hours to get ready", Narongsak said.
Some took time on Sunday to pay tribute to Saman Gunan, a Thai Navy SEAL who died while trying to ensure the boys had enough oxygen.
8 out of the 13 boys of the Thai junior football team were rescued from the flooded Tham Luang cave in Thailand.
The only way to extract them is by navigating 2.5 miles of dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air. He was removed from the cave first because he was unwell as he gave all the food to boys.
The other, and perhaps more worrying, was that oxygen levels in the complex were falling close to risky levels.
"Football's Coming Home. First Wild Boars Out", a headline on one online Thai paper said on Monday, referring to a song chanted by English soccer fans at the World Cup now underway in Russian Federation.