Now, eight of the 12 boys have been removed from the cave after over two weeks. Four remain trapped, along with their coach.
The fifth Wild Boars player rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave was seen on a stretcher around 4:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET) on Monday, according to CNN, and was airlifted to a hospital.
The second day of the rescue operations has now been suspended, according to CNN.
Four of the boys became the first group to be rescued on Sunday by a team of 13 international cave diving experts and five Thai Navy SEALs who entered the cave with the mission of accompanying each boy one by one through the flooded tunnels that claimed the life of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver on Friday.
According to Today, the first four boys are recovering in a hospital and are “hungry and healthy.” Infection remains the top concern.
Cave diver Ivan Karadzic, who is on the scene, told Today on Monday that the boys have been “very, very calm” given all that they’ve endured.
“They are some incredibly strong kids considering they’ve been through what can only be thought of as an absolute nightmare for these guys,” he said.
Karadzic added that the cave is small, hard to navigate and pitch black without artificial light. In addition, the boys — who range in age from 11 to 16 — are not able to swim.
“The main challenge here is that we’re dealing with young kids in no way trained to do any diving,” he explained. “Cave diving requires a lot of training, and it’s still dangerous even for the best cave divers. The major challenge here is to make sure these kids don’t panic. I would expect anybody who’s not trained for this type of diving to look at this as an extremely fearful event. So yes, keeping the boys in good mental health so they don’t panic. If they panic, it will create a lot of problems for us inside the cave.”
Fortunately, engineers are working to pump water out from the cave. Although there are several places along the rescue route where both the diver and the boys have to go underwater and utilize a scuba mask, the path is less treacherous than before.
“When we started, which is now two weeks ago, pretty much the entire cave was underwater and from the inside of the cave to the entry was very, very high,” Karadzic said. “It was impossible for even us cave divers to actually swim into the cave. The only way we could get into the cave was to hold onto rocks and drag us along. Now, due the enormous amount of engineers we have outside and the water pumps many places in the cave, the water is now getting sucked out of the cave. It’s getting easier and easier to get in and out.”
President Donald Trump tweeted about the rescue efforts on Sunday morning, writing, “The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!”
Last Friday evening, a Thai Navy SEAL shared the collection of notes retrieved from the soccer team on Facebook. “The kids said ‘don’t worry,’ everyone is strong, they have a long list of food they want to eat when they get outside,” the Navy SEAL said of the team’s joint letter, according to translations provided by TIME.