Thai Boys Rescued from Flooded Cave Make First Public Appearance


It will include interviews with those involved in the rescue effort, including medical experts and cave diving instructors, explore the living conditions faced by the children who are between the ages of 11 and 16, and how the cave's unique geology - and being flooded - presented so many challenges.

The boys' friends, family and nurses from Chiang Rai Hospital were smiling and willing them on from the sidelines.

The team entered the hall wearing soccer uniforms emblazoned with a wild boar and were holding soccer balls. A large sign had the words "Bringing the Wild Boars Home".

After nine days without food, they were found emaciated and huddled in a group on a muddy ledge by British divers several kilometres inside Tham Luang. "They asked me a question and it was quite some time before I was able to answer it", he said. "I tried not to think about food so I didn't get more hungry". An global team of rescuers using diving equipment and pulleys extracted the 12 boys and their coach through the tight, flooded passageways in three separate missions last week.

A handout footage given by the hospital shows members of a Thai youth football team being cheered by hospital staff.

"Be calm, be cool", one of the boys recalled telling his coach, asking him to slow down.

Members of the rescued soccer team and their coach sit during a press conference discussing their ordeal in the cave in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. But rainwater flooded the tunnels, trapping them inside. Ekkapol also said the team took turns digging at cave walls and made more than 10 feet of progress to no avail. "We'll do whatever he wants", he said.

"We dug three to four metres".

One the first day back with their families after being recued from a flooded cave, the young Thai soccer team and their coach have visited a Buddhist temple to pray for protection from misfortunes.

During the first 10 days, there was one particularly worrying moment that caused the group to shift course.

Graphic showing the rescue of a youth football team trapped inside a cave  AFP
Graphic showing the rescue of a youth football team trapped inside a cave AFP

The coach said the trip was meant to last one hour, simply because "each of us wanted to see what was inside".

"At first", Titan's father said, "I was really happy and surprised because he is now finally safe". Trying not to think about food was nearly impossible at that time.

One boy was anxious about his parents. "That I wouldn't go home and I would get scolded by my mother".

Coach Ake and two other boys who were in the cave are also stateless. He was the former Thai navy diver who died while preparing for their rescue.

Asked why they had gone into the cave, Mr Ekkapol, 25, said: "I was not the one who invited them into the cave".

The boys are due to be ordained as Buddhist monks for a short period of time, a tradition for males in Thailand who have experienced a misfortune.

"Everyone felt less anxious after the first five days because all of the staff and volunteers were working really hard to find them", he said.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters news reports.

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