Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Matthew Castillo

First images emerge of boys rescued from Thailand cave

First images emerge of boys rescued from Thailand cave

Speaking earlier Wednesday, health ministry inspector Tongchai Lertvirairatanapong said the boys were in "good condition", despite each losing an average of two kilograms (4.4 pounds) in weight during their time in the cave.

Rescue divers told BBC News the boys were heavily sedated during the rescue to prevent them from panicking in the water-filled passageways, which were barely large enough to fit through.

"If you didn't use the water pump in that location, you could only come out with an oxygen tank", ex-SEAL Com Chaiyananta said.

Erik Brown, a Canadian who was one of 13 foreign expert divers in a core team of 18, said he was terrified as he swam, crawled and waded through the labyrinthine cave.

"By the time the last diver was out the water was already at head level, nearly to the point where he needed an oxygen tank".

The worldwide bid to extract the team garnered attention from around the world after the team found themselves trapped on June 23 when they entered the cave after practice and were blocked by floodwaters.

Thailand's junta chief told reporters on Tuesday that the group had been given a "minor tranquiliser" to help calm their nerves. "My job was to transfer them along".

"Everybody pulled together and the results speak for themselves, so we're just very happy that the boys are out and safe", Volanthen told reporters.

"This victory goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong", French midfielder Paul Pogba tweeted after his team beat Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday to reach the final.

Other video footage shows several of the boys in hospital, in quarantine and wearing face masks but seemingly in good health as they nod, wave and flash peace signs to the camera.

Isn't that wonderful? The Thai rescue mission has taught us one thing. He was the only casualty of the operation.

"I want this warm hug once again", his widow Valeepoan said on Instagram, posting a photo of her and Saman embracing.

The saga of the "Wild Boars" gripped the world, with the lives of the group hanging in the balance as the threat of heavy rain injected urgency to an already perilous extraction bid.

The boys and their coach are now recovering in Chiang Rai Hospital.

The extensive search-and-rescue operation, which included more than 1,000 people from various nations, has now switched to a treatment process.

Experts say the divers brought a variety of skills, including the ability to install guide lines that help in low visibility, and previous experience in global operations. Coach Ekaphol Chantawong and players Pornchai Kamluang, Adul Sam-on and Mongkol Boonpiam are from northern Thailand, near the border of Myanmar and are considered stateless under Thai law, according to The Guardian. "That won't happen or we'll give them hell", Chu tweeted, adding it's "a attractive story" about human beings saving other human beings.

Fellow British rescuers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton said that Dr Richard "Harry" Harris had a great relationship with the boys while they were trapped in the cave system, the Herald Sun reports.

Volanthen received a standing ovation as part of a hero's send-off at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday as they left the country.

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