Mission accomplished and boys healthy, rescuers head home

Boys rescued from Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave had to turn down an invitation to the World Cup to remain under medical care. More

Boys rescued from Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave had to turn down an invitation to the World Cup to remain under medical care. More

The parents of the 12 boys from the Wild Boar football team shed tears of relief and joy on Wednesday afternoon (Jul 11) when they visited them at Chiang Rai hospital.

A huge worldwide operation rescued the stricken children, who became trapped in a flooded six-mile cave in the Doi Nang Non range on June 25, along with their 25-year-old coach, Ekaphol Chanatwong.

The boys are all recovering in hospital.

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Hospital Director Chaiwetch Thanapaisal said at a news conference that "everyone is strong in mind and heart", The Washington Post reported.

Even so, all need to be monitored in the hospital for a week and then rest at home for another 30 days, he said.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha asked that the boys be given time to recover.

Parents are still waiting to be reunited with their sons two days after the last members of a youth football team were extracted from a cave in northern Thailand, as details of the high-risk rescue operation have started to emerge.

"We would like to thank everyone for the messages of support we have received following the successful extraction of the team and Royal Thai Navy Seals from the cave", they said in a joint statement. The boys were held close to divers and remained motionless for parts of the journey where they had to dive.

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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.

Yesterday, the Australian contingent - made up of military personnel and Australian Federal Police divers - revealed they moved more than 20 tonnes of equipment - including oxygen tanks to make the hours-long trek - through the dark tunnels to facilitate the rescue operation.

He added: "We are not heroes". The navy has a motto: 'We don't abandon the people'. There were volunteers from Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Ukraine and Finland.

But Mr Volanthen credited the worldwide team of military, navy and civilian divers who all "pulled together".

The rescue has dominated front-page headlines in Thailand and beyond for days. "The world will not forget his kindness and all he did to save those boys". Players from France and England welcomed news of the rescue and sent their best wishes to the "Wild Boars" on Twitter.

Although the boys were found safe, the water levels and complexity of the cave system meant rescuers weren't able to retrieve the first four boys until July 8, more than two weeks' after they went missing.

France were the first team to reach the final when they defeated Belgium on Wednesday morning AEST.

"The big heros in this are these children and the four Thai Navy SEALs who were looking after them".

"It's Thai, Westerners, Europeans, Aussies - people from all over the world who helped bring these kids to safety", Scott told Reuters.

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