THE 12 stranded Thai schoolboys and their soccer coach are to be discharged from hospital next week after Brit divers rescued them from an underground flooded cave.
The last of the “Wild Boars” soccer team and their 25-year-old coach were brought out of the Tham Luang cave on Tuesday night, safely ending a perilous rescue and evoking international relief and joy.
EPA The twelve Thai boys and their coach are being released from hospital next Thursday after up to 17 days trapped in a flooded cave Dramatic video shows Thai Navy Seals carry out trapped football team on stretchers through dangerous cave system
The boys and their coach have been in hospital in the northern town of Chiang Rai since then but will be discharged next Thursday, health minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn announced today.
In a video played at a news conference they appeared well, sitting up in bed and thanking their rescuers.
“I am in good health now,” said a 14-year-old boy nicknamed Note.
“Thanks for saving me.”
Reuters The dangerous mission to save the boys and their coach took three days
Dan Charity – The Sun Dramatic pictures showed the boys being taken on stretchers after their incredible rescue Hero British diver John Volanthen who helped in Thai cave rescue returns to UK
The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach had planned to explore the cavern complex for about an hour after soccer practice on June 23. But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them two and a half miles underground.
Two British divers found them on July 2, squatting on a mound in a flooded chamber several kilometres inside the complex.
Then the problem became how to get them back out through the tunnels, some completely full of fast-flowing flood water.
All 13 were brought to safety over the course of a three-day rescue, organised by Thai navy SEALs and an international team of cave-diving experts.
AP:Associated Press The dramatic operation took several days to complete
AP:Associated Press In a news conference today, some of the boys said they were healthy and well
EPA A few of the youngsters said they craved pork knuckle rice and sushi after their ordeal
Getty Images – Getty There were scenes of jubilation as the boys were found safe and healthy in the cave
As a vast clean-up operation at the mouth of the cave got underway, Piyasakol told reporters the health of all 13 had improved. Some had pneumonia when they were brought out of the cave but were recovering, he said.
Some of the group had lost as much as 5 kg (11 lb) but had regained some of the weight, and their appetites, in hospital, Piyasakol said.
“I want to have crispy pork rice and barbecue pork rice,” 15-year-old Pipat Photi said in the video.
“I want pork knuckle rice”, said 13-year-old Duangpetch Promtep, adding: “Thank you for all the moral support.”
Twitter Some of the boys sent this photo from the cave to show their relatives they were safe and well
Dan Charity – The Sun Brit scuba heroes Richard Stanton and John Volanthen made the euphoric discovery after bravely traversing the labyrinth of caverns and passages
Getty Images – Getty The rescue mission was camped outside the entrance to the cave for days after the discovery the boys were trapped inside
REUTERS A vast clean-up operation is now underway after the boys were safely recovered
REUTERS Volunteers young and old armed with brooms and other tools got to work clearing the campsite surrounding the cave mouth
Others said they were craving sushi.
But while the group is good health, they still face challenges.
One concern has been how they will deal with the fame, given the huge attention, both from within Thailand and beyond, on the case.
The story is already set for a retelling by Hollywood, with two production companies looking to put together movies about the boys and their rescue.
“We need to prepare both the children and their families for the attention they will receive when they come out,” Piyasakol said.