Mission accomplished and boys healthy, rescuers head home

Tanya Simon
July 13, 2018

Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who oversaw the rescue operation, said the boys should not be blamed for their near tragedy.

"To see all that heroic bravery in the cave, and to get all the divers out, it's just such a touching event and so personal to me", he said in a video on Twitter. filmed at the rescue site.

"I was exhausted", he said.

"The first thing I want to do is hug him,"he said."All parents have the same feeling".

However, the courageous South Australian anaesthetist and experienced cave diver has insisted it was very much a team effort, thanking his colleagues and the young boys for their courage. They were all were rushed to the hospital mostly because of fear of infection.

The schoolboys rescued from a flooded cave system in Thailand were dosed with an anti-anxiety drug to stop them panicking during the terrifying underwater mission, the country's prime minister has admitted.

Their rescue was particularly treacherous because the boys, aged 11 to 16, had to swim through tight spaces despite having no previous diving experience.

Doctors, divers and other rescuers were posted along the twisting corridors monitoring the boys as they were passed through using a system of ropes, pulleys and rubber piping.

The Tham Luang rescue mission involved more than 10,000 officers from the Thai Army, Navy and Air Force, police personnel, medics, diving experts, engineers, geologists, volunteers and many more - both from Thailand and overseas. 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.

"Some have had muscle infections, cold, flu, and some psychologists have been taking care of them to relieve stress", Health Ministry Inspector Lertvirairatanapong said.

Ropes were used inside the cave as gushing water made the escape even more unsafe for the Thai boys.

He told the Associated Press Wednesday that the boys lost about two kilograms of weight during their time in the cave.

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Police officers took photographs of each other at the massive cave entrance, as pumps continued to suck out huge volumes of water.

The next day, four more were rescued after a 9-hour mission.

Thailand said it had called on 13 "world class" divers to help with the unprecedented job, one of whom was Australian Richard "Harry" Harris, a diver and professional anaesthetist.

He was the last man out of the cave Tuesday but emerged to tragedy, learning of his father's death shortly after the rescue had completed.

"The world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue that I think has never been done before", Anderson said.

Although the boys spent nine days without food and more than two weeks in the dark, damp cave, they seem to be in good health.

"Wild Boars, keep fighting!" they chanted.

Each boy was accompanied underwater by two divers carrying their oxygen tanks for them, and guiding them through the murky tunnels.

Ek, 25, has not spoken publicly about the ordeal, or about how the group got trapped by flood waters after a rainy season downpour.

The 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach may have received help and support from across the globe, but the sweetest moment was a little closer to home.

The 12 Wild Boars players and their coach had entered the cave to go exploring June 23.

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