Thai boys lost weight but generally well after cave ordeal

The rescued boys flashed victory signs from their hospital beds in a video released by the Thai government. Doctors said the boys were in a "very good mental state" but they will remain hospitalized for up to a week.

Video released by the Thai government on Wednesday showed several of the boys rescued from inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand smiling and making two-finger victory signs from their hospital beds in an isolation ward.

"Don't need to worry about their physical health and even more so for their mental health," said Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.

Most of the 12 boys from the youth soccer team lost an average of 2 kilograms (4 pounds) during their ordeal, but were generally in good condition, a health official said at a press conference earlier on Wednesday.

Rescue workers extracted the last group of the "Wild Boars" soccer team and their coach from the Tham Luang cave on Tuesday night, ensuring a happy ending to a 17-day ordeal that had gripped the world.

They were taken by helicopter to a hospital about 70 kilometers (45 miles) away to join their teammates in quarantine.

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

"This may be because they spent the entire time together as a team helping each other out," he said.

Read morePsychological impacts of being trapped in a cave

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DW News | 11.07.2018

Thailand cave rescue: Schoolmates speak to DW

Lung infection

The four boys rescued on Sunday are now eating normal food and walking around, while the four extracted on Monday are being given soft food.

Parents of the boys freed on Sunday were able to visit them but had to wear protective suits and stand 2 meters (7 feet) away as a precaution.

One member of the final group of four boys and the coach who arrived at the hospital Tuesday evening had a slight lung infection, Thongchai said. Two of the first group had a lung infection as well.

The group will remain hospitalized for up to a week to ensure they are properly treated for all their health conditions. This means they will not be able to take up the invitation from FIFA to attend the Soccer World Cup final in Moscow..

The 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their coach became trapped on June 23 when they were cut off by floodwaters while exploring the cave. They were found by a pair of British divers more than a week later. A high-risk international mission ensued and the group was eventually rescued.

Now live
01:49 mins.
DW News | 08.07.2018

One Thai soccer player had a narrow escape

Thai PM thanks rescuers

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday thanked people involved in the rescue.

The government's efforts, the assistance of people in Thailand and abroad, and the outpouring of moral support made the mission a success, Prayuth said in a televised national address.

He also paid a tribute to former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Kunan, who died last week during the rescue mission.

"His honor, sacrifice and legacy will forever be in our hearts," Prayuth said.

Rescue dominates headlines

The dramatic rescue operation dominated front-page headlines in Thailand.

"All Wild Boars Saved," read one headline.

"Hooyah! Mission accomplished," read another, echoing the rallying cry of the Thai navy SEALs involved in the rescue.

rs, ap/rc (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

Happy ending after harrowing ordeal

After deliberating over how best to rescue the boys and their coach - considering even whether to teach them how to dive, or wait for the monsoon waters to recede months later - rescue workers finally settled on pumping out as much water as possible, sedating those trapped and strapping them to a diver who shepherded them to safety.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

Found alive after nine days

Rescue divers initially found the 12 young soccer players and their coach alive on July 3 after they went missing in a Thai cave 10 days earlier. Fighting against time, rain and low oxygen levels, rescuers managed to free the first four boys successfully on July 8. The rescuers faced a complicated and dangerous diving mission to free the rest of the team and their coach.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

Glimpse of joy

Families of the teenage soccer players expressed their joy over the discovery of the boys nine days after they went missing. Outside the cave, the mother of one of the boys said she was "glad" for a glimpse of her son. "He's thinner," she said, as she ran her finger over the image of her son on a television screen.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

Massive rescue efforts

Thai rescuers were assisted by an international team comprising experts from China, Australia, the USA and Britain. A video from the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page showed the group several kilometers inside the 10-kilometer (6-mile) cave network on a small wedge of dry ground. The boys moved 400 meters further in as the ledge had become covered by water.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

Trapped by flooding

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach entered the cave to celebrate one of the player's birthday. They became trapped in the cave, a local tourist spot where similar incidents have taken place in the past, when sudden rainfall flooded its entry on June 23. It was later reported that some of the boys could not swim, further complicating the rescue.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

A difficult mission

The rescue mission proved difficult for divers whose efforts were continually hampered by rising water that filled sections of the cave, often forcing them to stop. Getting trained divers into the cave was easier than getting untrained kids out.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

Boys' safety paramount

The entire nation was glued to the media coverage of the rescue mission, and Thai authorities insisted they will not compromise on the safety of the trapped group. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (above, at right) thanked international experts who helped find the boys.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

First boys rescued

The first four boys were rescued by a team of 13 foreign diving experts and Thai Navy SEALS, who helped them navigate the flooded cave tunnels. The head of the rescue operation said they were the healthiest in the group. The rest of the boys and their coach would be rescued from the cave over the next two days.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys

Safe and sound

Doctors who treated the boys after their rescue reported that while they had lost weight, the otherwise appeared to be in good health. The dozens of divers and hundreds of other rescue workers have been celebrated around the world as heroes, especially 38-year-old former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who died after bringing the group supplies of air on July 5.