Divers have entered a cave in northern Thailand to retrieve the last four members of a football team and their coach on what rescuers hope will be the final day of the mission to free them.
Rescue workers and divers are using the break to rest and prepare for the next phase of the grueling operation, which Osotthanakorn said involves some of the hardest diving in the world. On Monday, four more were rushed to a hospital.
The latest rescue operation began at about 10.08am local time (1.08pm AEST).
Four boys and their football coach are waiting to make the long and arduous journey out of the cave complex. Torrential rainfall and flooding cut off their escape route and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.
The four who were rescued previously were taken to a hospital in Chiang Rai for evaluation.
To date, each rescued boy has been escorted through the labyrinthine cave by two divers, each of them holding an oxygen tank that feeds to the survivor's mask. Authorities have said the mission could take up to four days to complete and heavy rain is forecast in the coming days.
The rescue effort has already claimed the life of one Navy Seal diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday. "But if the rain god doesn't help, then it could be challenging", Narongsak said.
Heavy rain started falling as soon as the four were removed from the cave.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX was - if his Twitter and Instagram accounts are to be believed - in Thailand on Monday touring the cave where a team of 12 soccer players, aged 11 to 16, became stuck with their coach on June 23.
"They can watch on TV", he said.
For the five still stranded, it's been 17 days since they've been outside. There was some rain on Sunday, which caused some water to go into the cave, but officials were able to pump an nearly equal amount of water out.
The first group has reportedly been allowed to eat chocolate and bread after requesting it.
It is unclear how much weight the boys lost during the ordeal.
Divers involved in the rescue described treacherous conditions, with fast-moving shallow water passing through very narrow passages. But officials decided "the risk of leaving them there was greater". "The equipment they brought to help us is not practical with our mission", the publication also quoted him as saying.
Divers have gone in for the second rescue attempt, Thai officials said. It takes several hours. Chiang Rai province's acting governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is in charge of the rescue, voiced confidence on Monday in the ongoing operation, provided the weather doesn't worsen. A fresh operation to save the remaining five people was launched on Tuesday.
Health officials say the eight rescued so far are in good physical and mental health but more tests are being carried out. They're now recovering in hospital and are said to be "healthy".
Positive medical reports on the rescued group further fuelled the sense of joy and optimism. "Everyone please give us moral support", Mr Narongsak said, to big applause from those present. He said it was out of respect for the families whose sons were still trapped in the cave.
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.