THE 12 young football players rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand are recovering well, as new video footage shows them waving and appearing to smile behind green surgical masks in a hospital isolation unit.
The video, filmed in a hospital in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, sees some of the boys making ‘horn’ hand signs for the camera, as they sit in their beds surrounded by medical staff.
The last remaining four school boys and their coach, who had been trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex for 18 days, were carried out on stretchers on Tuesday at the end of a three-day operation.
He said he believed the Wild Boar FC players would ‘grow up to be good citizens’, and added that they are ‘healthy and strong’.
Their miraculous escape, during which the 12 boys were moved out one by one over three days, would see them endure dives in zero visibility lasting up to half an hour, the leader of the U.S. contingent of the operation has revealed.
U.S. Air Force rescue specialist Derek Anderson detailed how parts of the rescue route would see the Wild Boar FC players put in a harness and high-lined across rocky caverns.
Anderson said the 12 boys and their coach, who were trapped for more than two weeks, were ‘incredibly resilient.’
‘What was really important was the coach and the boys all came together and discussed staying strong, having the will to live, having the will to survive,’ he said.
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The complicated operation to bring the boys out of the cave began on Sunday, when four were extracted.
Four more were brought out on Monday, and the operation ended Tuesday with the rescue of the last four boys and their 25-year-old coach.
Video shows the moment some of the young boys are being pulled out of the cave, carried on stretchers and surrounded by more than a dozen members of the 100-strong rescue team.
The footage, released on the Thai Navy SEALs Facebook page, shows a complex operation with numerous divers – both foreign and Thai – using pulleys, ropes and rubber piping to haul the children to safety while seemingly sedated.
The 18-day ordeal riveted much of the world – from the awful 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 nearly ten days later.
The group had entered the sprawling Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand to go exploring after soccer practice on June 23, but monsoon rains filled the tight passageways, blocking their escape, and pushing them deeper inside in search of a refuge.