A little before 5pm local time (10am GMT) a fifth boy was reported rescued after a six-hour operation.
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.
"Today was the best day, the best situation in terms of the weather, the health of the boys, our water management for our rescue effort", the governor said.
Onlookers watch and cheer as ambulances deliver boys rescued from a cave in northern Thailand to a hospital in Chiang Rai after they were transported by helicopters on July 8, 2018 in Chiangrai, Thailand.
It had been assumed that the four extracted yesterday were boys, but it emerged that the fourth person taken out was the coach, Mr Ekapol.
Narongsak, the rescue mission chief, determined that the latter option was "impossible", as the tunnels are unlikely to dry out before December.
The rescue teams had rehearsed the plan for several days, Narongsak said, and had managed to drain the cave water level considerably, but needed to move fast.
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Expert divers managed to get four of the 12 boys to safety on Sunday.
AN AUSTRALIAN doctor's triaging of 12 boys trapped in a cave in northern Thailand may have led to the rescue of four of the weakest children first.
Officials said at a news conference that the parents of the rescued boys, whose names have not been released, have not yet been allowed to have physical contact with them, pending more extensive examination of their physical condition.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with their 25-year-old coach after soccer practice on June 23, setting out on an adventure to explore the cave complex near the border with Burma (Myanmar) and celebrate a boy's birthday. "Divers are expected to re-enter the caves in between ten and twenty hours" time because there were not enough air tanks along the route to continue, an official said.
In places the passage is so tight divers have to take the scuba tank off their backs and carry their gear through one piece at a time.
Monsoon flooding cut off their escape route and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days. Authorities have brought the group high-protein gels and supplies to last for four months and have been trying to install a phone line.
"It's risky to the most experienced divers to go through", one diver told Reuters.
The boys were trapped in the cave when unexpected rains made their trip out impossible. Authorities have said the soccer players are being looked after by Thai navy SEALs, including medics, staying with them inside the cave.