Friday, 22 February, 2019

Mission accomplished: Thai soccer boys healthy, rescuers head home

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption The boys give victory signs as they recover in hospital Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption The boys give victory signs as they recover in hospital
Stacy Diaz | 13 July, 2018, 12:32

"We have to do all we can, even though it is hard to fight the force of nature". Their bikes were found near the entrance of the cave and footprints suggested that they had been forced deeper into the maze of tunnels when monsoon rains began to fall.

The complex, three-day rescue saw four boys emerge on Sunday, four on Monday, and the final four boys plus their coach on Tuesday.

Divers practiced their rescue techniques in a swimming pool with local children about the same height and weight as the members of the Wild Boars soccer team trapped in the cave.

With the boys still recuperating in hospital, US-based production companies have already taken an interest in turning their story into a motion picture.

Five Seals and 13 foreign divers worked together to rescue the boys.

The Thai boys saved from a flooded cave endured dives in zero visibility lasting up to half an hour. "For SEALs, this is what we were trained for".

John Volanthen was the first voice the boys heard after nine days trapped in the underground network in Chiang Rai province.

Now, the boys are in the hospital where new video shows them sitting up in their beds. "Many, many people. We are the first".

Brown was impressed by the rigour of the planning by the Thai military.

Chu has previously directed films such as Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) and Now You See Me 2 (2016). He was the only casualty of the operation.

They were given anti-anxiety medication to keep them calm.

"The boys got special full-face masks with oxygen circulating all the time".

But the rescue in murky water presents an added challenge. "This makes the current inside quite strong, and because it's constantly flowing the water is murky", a Thai officer involved in the mission told Reuters, declining to be named as he wasn't authorised to speak to the media. A former Thai navy SEAL diver died during the mission.

Initial attempts to locate the boys were twice unsuccessful because the force of cold hypothermia-inducing floodwaters rushing into narrow passages made them unpassable. The diving was over by this point, but still the way ahead was hard.

This was evident in some footage released by the Thai Navy SEALs where the Thai divers could be seen using pulleys, ropes and rubber piping to haul stretchers holding two of the immobile young footballers to safety.

Dr Harris decided the order in which the boys could leave the cave, after conducting health assessments determining who needed to leave most urgently.

Officials have confirmed the boys were sedated to combat the risk of panic inside the cave.

"If it's not broke, don't change it", Brown said.

"It was dark so we all had head lamps, and there was one spotlight".

The rescue has dominated front-page headlines in Thailand and beyond for days.

"I started to cry, everybody started to cry", he said.