Thai soccer kids make victory signs from hospital beds

12 July, 2018, 13:32 | Author: Wade Massey
  • The rescued Thai football team

A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand has saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world.

On Tuesday evening, coach Ekkapol Chantawong, 25, was the last man out.

It was something the rescue workers had been dreading in their race against time to save the group.

Even the rescuers reacted with disbelief at the successful evacuation of all team members.

"There were 100 guys running down the hill and the water was coming".

The authorities had previously denied the children were drugged but Prayut Chan-o-Cha confirmed that they had been given an anxiolytic "to make them not excited, not stressed". Lit by several beams of white light, the divers in wet suits and helmets are seen submerging themselves in the water and grabbing on to a metal dive line used to guide them through the winding channels of the six-mile cave.

The conditions in Thailand were "extreme", he said, adding: "If any people could execute this rescue successfully, it was our team of British divers".

Matt Gutman said: "The cave started filling with water. It was noticeably rising".

The footage, which was posted on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page and captioned "the operation the world never forgets", appears to show the workers carrying the boys on stretchers.

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The boys are pictured in hospital after spending days trapped underground. "I have to praise the coach who took care of the footballers very well", Lertvirairatanapong said.

"Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers. My job was to transfer them along". "They had less than five meters' visibility, fought harsh currents and used a buddy system of two divers for each boy rescued".

One of the men most responsible for the success of the rescue is Australian anaesthetist and underwater cave explorer Richard Harris, who was part of the 20-strong Australian rescue contingent.

Officials plan an interactive museum at the Tham Luang cave based on the historic rescue mission that will feature items such as clothing that key rescuers wore during the operation, Narongsak said.

Despite spending days in the dark, dank, cave health officials said the boys - who are aged 11 to 16 - are in good physical and mental health and eating normal food.

Some of their parents are seen crying and waving to them from behind glass. They were all were rushed to the hospital mostly because of fear of infection.

The doctor said three of the boys were being treated for minor cases of pneumonia, but predicted most would be discharged after about a week.

Adisak Wongsukchan told Al Jazeera he gave his 14-year-old son Nong Bew a big thumbs up when he first saw him in hospital.

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