First pictures emerge of Thai teens rescued from flooded cave

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 12, 2018

He attributed their relative good health to their coach, 25-year-old Ekkapol Ake Chantawong, a former monk who was the last person out.

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

As members of the evacuation team became increasingly familiar with the treacherous complex of Tham Luang, the evacuation operation reportedly became smoother and faster as days went by.

"There were 100 guys running down the hill and the water was coming". They are children being children, it was an accident'. They were found by a pair of British divers almost 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny.

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

"I started to cry, everybody started to cry", he said. "It was noticeably rising".

The new video from the navy does not include footage of the divers in the water with the boys, but it does show a team of people using pulleys, string and rubber tubes to haul a green, kayak-shaped stretcher out of a tight crevice.

The first photographs of the boys recovering in a Chiang Rai hospital were released Wednesday.

"I promise I will take care of the kids as best as I can", Ake wrote.

"They talked to the boys far away from them, about 2 meters", Thongchai said.

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters on Tuesday that the group had been given a "minor tranquiliser" to help calm their nerves.

But he had denied they were knocked out for an operation the chief of the rescue had dubbed "mission impossible".

The dangers of the rescue were brought into sharp relief last Friday by the death of a retired Thai Navy Seal as he ran out of air in the flooded cave complex as extraction plans were being laid.

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.

The former governor of Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osatanakorn, the local official in charge of the rescue operation, told ABC News some of the boys were too weak to really walk.

Thongchai said the soccer teammates are in a "very good mental state" and are showing no signs of stress.

At one point, a boy can be seen waving his hand slightly and gripping his fingers into a fist, suggesting they were not completely unconscious. They were all were rushed to the hospital mostly because of fear of infection.

The boys were in isolation in the hospital to prevent infections by outsiders.

Speaking to CNN after he left the hospital, Mr Tanawat Viboonrungruang, the father of 11-year-old Titun, said he felt relieved to see his son was "still healthy".

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