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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.