Thai boys recount their ordeal and rescue, SE Asia News & Top Stories

Elias Hubbard
July 19, 2018

The 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach who spent more than two weeks stuck in a cave headed home from the hospital today.

They also paid tribute to Samarn Kunan, the former Thai navy diver who died while he placed oxygen tanks along a potential exit route. An worldwide team of rescuers using diving equipment and pulleys extracted the 12 boys and coach through the tight, flooded passageways over three days, concluding July 10.

They expressed their gratitude and condolences by writing messages on a portrait of Saman, promising to grow up to be good persons. The boys then sat still. Another said: "This experience taught me to be more patient and strong".

They were joined by relatives and friends at the Wat Pra That Doi Wao temple, overlooking Myanmar on Thailand's northern border.

"That was the miracle, the first in 10 days after we were trapped inside the cave. I tried not to think about food so I didn't get more hungry". "I had to think a lot before I could answer their questions", added Adul, who speaks English.

When asked about lessons they've learned from the incident, Ake said he's going to live life more carefully. I want to say thanks to those who rescued my boy.

Media veteran Suthichai Yoon, who moderated yesterday's event, asked the group who had asked Adul to act as translator.

"Everyone was very sad", Ekkapol said.

After spending a night at home numerous boys attended a ceremony the next morning at Wat Pha That Doi Wao in Mae Sai near the Myanmar border where they prayed for longevity and a good life.

The team had gone to explore the caves after soccer practice, and on their way back out noticed the water rising.

"At the time we were not scared, because we thought the water would go down and someone would rescue us", he said.

"They will live with their families first", Punnawitch Thepsurin, the director of a school in the area, said, adding that they will not resume their studies immediately.

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The boys had not eaten for nine days prior to being found.

Thailand has refused to ratify the United Nations convention guaranteeing rights for refugees, so while stateless people are eligible for basic education and healthcare, Reuters reported they also face travel restrictions and access to financial services, and can not get married or buy property.

When they realized it was real, he said, "We were startled".

"We tried to dig out as we thought we can not only wait for authorities to get us", coach Ekkapol Chantawong told reporters in Chiang Rai, a city in northern Thailand.

"We took turns digging at the cave walls", coach Ekkapol Chantawong, 25, said.

But they never had a chance to try out the second option, as the water level was too high for them to go further. One Thai Navy SEAL lost his life during the rescue operations.

The survivors said they had no food, with one team member saying they "drank water that fell from the rocks" until rescuers discovered them.

Doctors took the first two questions, and said the 13 were healthy in body and mind. And in the excitement of being found, he rushed to spoke to the diver.

The 12, who are members of a junior football team, the Wild Boars, appeared in their club's kit at a news conference in Chiang Rai.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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