Thai boys shown waving and smiling in first video since rescue

Rex Christensen
July 12, 2018

Motorists pass a billboard with a photograph showing members of the Thai children's Wild Boar football team and their coach with a message "welcome home brothers".

As ecstatic relatives watched and waved from behind a glass barrier, the 12 boys and their coach rescued from deep within a flooded cave in Thailand made the V-for-Victory sign Wednesday from their beds in a hospital isolation ward where they are recovering from the 18-day ordeal.

With the World Cup reaching its climax, Federation Internationale de Football Association invited the Wild Boars to attend Sunday's final in Moscow between France and the victor of Wednesday's England-Croatia match.

TRT World's John Joe Regan has more from northern Thailand.

Thai authorities imposed a media lockdown during the evacuation, even holding large white umbrellas around the boys as they lay in stretchers outside the cave as they were transferred to helicopters bound for hospital. "It's called anxiolytic, something to make them not excited, not stressed".

"I promise I will take care of the kids as best as I can", he wrote.

Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, said the boys lost an average of 2kg while they were trapped.

Their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, reportedly refused to eat any of this food so the boys would have more for themselves, leaving him the weakest when divers eventually found the team on 2 July.

The mission to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a Thai cave is to get the Hollywood treatment in a movie announced by faith-based production house Pure Flix.

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In total, 19 divers assisted in the rescue of the final five members of the group, said to be the one of the toughest rescue operations to date.

The boys would have to stay in hospital for up to 10 days, hospital director Chaiwetch Thanapaisal told the news conference.

"Early this morning Harry's father passed away here in Adelaide. after they'd all come out of the cave", said Andrew Pearce, of the MedSTAR rescue service. He praised the cooperation between Thai and global rescuers. "There are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things", Glenn McEwan, the Australian Federal Police's Asia manager, told reporters in Chiang Rai.

"We did something nobody thought possible", said Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn during a news briefing once the rescue was complete.

"And we're here witnessing the events, gathering some contacts and everything, to really tell a story about an worldwide effort, the entire world coming together to save (12) kids trapped in this Thai cave".

England defender Kyle Walker sought out the boys' contact information to send them jerseys.

An American involved in the operation described the perilous zero-visibility dives that brought the boys out safely as a "once in a lifetime rescue".

"It's hard to imagine anything more frightening than being trapped underground in the dark, let alone having your children trapped underground in the dark", Turnbull told the Queensland Press Club.

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