While a sense of relief swept across the globe as a further four of the remaining boys trapped inside a Thai cave were rescued on Monday night, there is still an anxious wait for some of their parents.
Authorities have not officially confirmed the identity of the rescued eight to date, although several reports in the media have named the first four.
Several parents of the boys say they had not been told who had been rescued and that they were not allowed to visit the hospital.
Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, said the rescued boys had not been identified out of respect for the families whose sons were still trapped, adding that the boys were being kept away from their parents due to fear of infection.
“They will be kept away from their parents for a while because we are concerned about infections,” Narongsak said.
Medical teams previously said concerns included hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as “cave disease”, which is caused by bat and bird droppings.
Despite concern over potential infection, Narongsak said on Monday the latest four rescued had arrived in hospital and that “all are safe”.
Somboon Sompiangjai, 38, the father of one of the trapped boys, said parents were told by rescuers ahead of Sunday’s operation the “strongest children” would be brought out first.
“We have not been told which child has been brought out … We can’t visit our boys in hospital because they need to be monitored for 48 hours,” Somboon told Reuters.
“I’m hoping for good news.”
Once doctors give the all clear for the boys to be reunited with their parents, they will not be able to hug or touch their children, The Guardian reported.
“Visitors will only be allowed to meet and talk to the patients,” Dr Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong told a local newspaper.
“No hugging or touching and they [visitors] need to leave a one to two metre distance from the patients until the results of their blood tests come back.”
The Thai authorities say the rescued boys are restricted to a diet of rice porridge, although their request for a favourite pork dish was rejected until their digestive systems could cope with the meal after 10 days without food, The BBC reported.
The operation on Monday went more smoothly than on Sunday and took two hours less as the practice became more refined, Narongsak said.
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But he added rescuers may need more than 20 hours, to replan and replenish oxygen supplies, to be ready to mount the next mission.
Narongsak said if the remaining four “Wild Boars” team are to be extracted alongside their coach there would need to be a change of plan.
“It depends on the plan… We have set the plan for four people so if they want to take five out (at the same time), then they need to change the plan,” he said.
While the rescued boys haven’t officially been identified as of yet, the first four boys’ identities have been speculated by several media outlets.
Monhkol Boonpian, 13, known to friends and family as Mark, was reportedly the first of the boys to be removed.
Minutes later, Prajak Sutham, a sports-mad 14-year-old emerged from the cave where he had spent 16 days.
Two hours later, Nattawoot Thakamasai, an 11-year-old asthmatic became the third boy to reach freedom.
Fifteen-year-old Pipat Bodhu, who was not even on the soccer team, was the last of the first group to emerge from the flooded cave.