How hero doctor's Aussie accent played surprise role in Thai cave rescue

Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex

Thai rescue teams walk inside cave

A Thai navy SEAL diver told AFP news agency the boys were sleeping or partially conscious as they were carried out of the cave.

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.

"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".

The "Wild Boars" football team got stuck inside the cave on June 23 after flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains blocked the entrance.

Thai officials said they plan to create an interactive museum that will feature items such as the clothing worn by rescuers.

That left 20 or so divers scrambling to flee the rising waters, he said, explaining they narrowly made it out time.

But he said: "The most important thing to have was a full face mask which had been applied inside with positive pressure to enable them to breathe and to be relaxed enough so not to feel any anxiety during the process".

It also involved about 90 divers in all, 50 of them from overseas, as well as medics, ambulance drivers, and helicopter pilots to take the boys straight to hospital in the town of Chiang Rai.

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The team's morale was hit when a former Thai Navy SEAL, Samarn Kunan, 38, died while helping lay out oxygen tanks underground. He was the only casualty of the operation.

"I want this warm hug once again", his widow Valeepoan said on Instagram, posting a photo of her and Saman embracing.

Closer to home, Chiang Rai locals rejoiced at the odds-upsetting rescue bid. And it would take more than two weeks before the whole group were rescued by a team of more than 100 global experts, including South Australian doctor Richard Harris.

Without him "this mission may not have succeeded", the Thai rescue chief, Narongsak Osottanakorn, told reporters late Wednesday.

The 43-year-old Kiwi, detailed to the NZ Herald how he first got involved in the operation after returning from a diving job in Scotland.

At the start of the seven-minute video, posted on Facebook just a day after the last of the 13 members of the group were successfully escorted out of the cave, two divers are seen adjusting their equipment while standing chest-deep in murky water.

Duangduen Sittiwongsa, a classmate of 16-year-old Pheeraphat "Night" Sompiengjai, whose birthday fell on the same day the team entered the cave, said they would give him cake when he came back to school.

Schnauer said there was no opportunity to engage with the boys themselves, and his focus was purely the task at hand: where his feet where over the rocks.

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