Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Dora Pope

Thai boys were passed 'sleeping' through cave, says rescue diver

Thai boys were passed 'sleeping' through cave, says rescue diver

The nerve-shredding three-day mission ended on Tuesday with the final group of four boys and the coach emerging from the cave which had held them captive for 18 days.

The video released by the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, located in Thailand's Chiang Rai province, shows the boys lying and sitting in an isolation ward while wearing face masks and hospital gowns.

The rescue sparked jubilation with Thais heaping praise on the rescue team of foreign and local divers as the triumphant tagline "Hooyah" pinballed across social media.

None of the 12 boys had ever been diving and some did not know how to swim.

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 off air in the flooded cave complex as the extraction plans were being laid. "Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers...[as if] groggy, but they were breathing", Navy SEAL Chaiyananta Peeranarong, who helped with the rescue, told the news agency.

Divers who took part in the operation said the boys were heavily sedated to avoid anxiety as they went through the dark, narrow, underwater passageways. Before their discovery, they survived by drinking water dripping into their cramped refuge.

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

The last of the group was finally extracted on Tuesday after a painstaking and risky global rescue mission led by Thai Navy SEALs.

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Rescuers begin operation to extract Thai boys trapped in cave
The operation could be halted at any time because of weather and other factors and it could take a couple of days to complete. Payap Maiming, 40, who helped provide food and necessities to rescue workers and journalists, said a "miracle" had happened.

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Three hours after the final five were rescued, pumping machinery failed and the water level rose dramatically.

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

He was asked for by name to join the rescue mission after his abilities had earned him a worldwide reputation.

The boys lost on average 2kg during their ordeal but are said to be in good physical condition.

The 12 boys and their coach who were saved from a cave in northern Thailand are doing well mentally and physically, a Thai health official has said, amid an outpouring of gratitude for those involved in their rescue.

Desperate attempts to free the trapped "Wild Boars" soccer team and their coach from a flooded Thai cave were hindered by wild weather and low oxygen.

Closer to home, Chiang Rai locals rejoiced at the odds-upsetting rescue bid. They were all were rushed to the hospital mostly because of fear of infection.

Rescuers had weighed up several options to save the boys, including keeping them in the cave through the months-long monsoon season. "All the 13 Wild Boars are now out of the cave", the Thai Navy SEAL team that led the rescue posted on Facebook after completing its mission, Reuters reported.

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