Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

Trapped schoolboys given anti-anxiety drugs before Thai cave rescue, officials say

Richard Harris Modal Trigger Richard Harris Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Melinda Barton | 13 July, 2018, 14:19

Meanwhile divers involved in the rescue operation have broken their silence on how the team managed to extract the boys and their coach from the cave where they had been stuck for more than two weeks.

Samarn Kunan, 38, a former member of the elite navy SEALs unit, was the only casualty in a multinational operation to save the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach after monsoon rains trapped them in the cave they were exploring in northern Thailand.

Chu tweeted a link to the Variety story on Wednesday and said that while it was too "early to discuss", he believed the cave rescue story was "too important [to] let others dictate who the real heroes are".

On July 2, Volanthen and Stanton were stringing a safety rope through a flooded area of the cave when they popped up in a cavern and, to their surprise, saw all 12 boys and their coach huddled on a small beach in the darkness of the cave.

"The section of cave we were in was very rocky and unstable".

"It was mostly a matter of clambering through mud, which was very tough", Ben Reymenants said.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Tears as Thai boys see parents for the first time since cave rescue".

All 12 of the boys and their 25-year-old coach were brought to safety over the course of a three-day rescue, organised by Thai navy SEALs and an worldwide team of diving and caving experts, that ended on Tuesday.

A screen grab from a July 11 handout video shows boys rescued from the Thai cave wearing masks and resting in a hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand. They were discovered on June 3 and rescued after a three-day operation involving experts from several countries, including the Thai Navy Seal, the United States Indo-Pacific Command and British cave diving experts.

Ewan McGregor, a British missionary in the city of Chiang Rai where the boys are now in hospital, said: "It really is a miracle and a result of prayer and I'm just excited to hear the testimonies of the boys when they're safe and well".

He said "relief is the word I would use" to describe the moment he and Stanton found the group. Sources also told us the boys have been asking about their cleats and when they can get back on the soccer field.

"But I think at that point we realised the enormity of the situation and that's perhaps why it took a while to get them all out".

But the mission, which leaned on the expertise of elite foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs, almost turned into a calamity.

But he denied they were knocked out for the miraculous rescue.

"It's about the triumphs of individuals and groups of human beings over tragedy", Medavoy said.

Health officials said the boys, aged 11 to 16, would spend at least a week in hospital and some 30 days recovering at home following their ordeal.

Volanthen said Saman's death last Friday had brought a "bittersweet" taste to an otherwise "excellent" operation.