A former Thai navy SEAL told Agence France-Presse that the 12 boys were partially sedated, fitted with a full face mask and passed from diver to diver through the cave complex in stretchers.
A British diver who helped save 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand says he and other rescuers "are not heroes".
Much of the rescue team was still inside the cave when the main pump failed, triggering a flood of water.
"By the time the last diver was out the water was already at head level, nearly to the point where he needed an oxygen tank".
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.
Prayut Chan-O-Cha, Junta leader shared on Tuesday (July 10) that the boys were given a "minor tranquiliser" to prevent them from any anxiety during the complex extraction bid, but he denied that they were completely knocked out.
"We just needed them to know how to breathe and not panic in the water", he said.
For three of the boys and the 25-year-old coach, the days after the rescue could become the start of an entirely new life. The boys were put in green plastic toboggans and carried through: at some points, there were steep slopes with cascading waters and the rescuers had to use a pulley system to winch them up.More news: Thailand cave rescue: First pics of boys in hospital
The rescue mission was indeed a highly unsafe one as a retired Thai Navy SEAL diver died last Friday (July 6) when he ran out of oxygen in the flooded cave. He was the only casualty of the operation.
The young soccer players rescued from a cave in Thailand are resting comfortably in a hospital.
Described in a South Australia Ambulance Service statement as a "quiet and kind man" who "didn't think twice about offering his support on this mission" Harry, as he is known, was lauded for his work in throughout the rescue period.
In some phases they were guided by two divers.
Without him "this mission may not have succeeded", the Thai rescue chief, Narongsak Osottanakorn, told reporters late Wednesday.
"The favourable outcome that has been achieved is nearly beyond our imagination when we first became involved in this operation".
The 18-day ordeal riveted much of the world - from the terrible news that the 13 were missing, to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found by a pair of British divers almost 10 days later. Thongchai said no one is blaming the coach, the last to be evacuated from the cave, for his decision to take the boys inside for a hike after soccer practice.