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Narongsak Osottanakorn, who has been leading the operation, then confirmed that 18 divers had gone in to get the boys.
"This is D-Day," he said. "The boys are ready to face any challenges." He added that the boys had all been assessed by a doctor and were "very fit physically and mentally... They are determined and focused".
The group and their families had all given their agreement that they should be moved as soon as possible, he said.