With V-for-Victory sign, rescued Thai boys celebrate freedom

Desiree Burns
July 12, 2018

Komolvadhin was one of the hundreds of journalists reporting on the unsafe rescue mission to extract the 12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their assistant coach trapped inside the five-mile-long Tham Luang Cave in Thailand's Chiang Rai province along the Thailand-Myanmar border.

Scott, who lives in Thailand for part of the year, followed the events at the rescue site in Chiang Rai for days, and also witnessed the boys being brought out from the cave.

The 12 boys rescued from deep within a flooded cave in northern Thailand made two-finger victory signs from their hospital beds yesterday in a moving video from the isolation ward where they're recuperating from their 18-day ordeal. The rescuers faced a complicated and unsafe diving mission to free the rest of the team and their coach.

Families of the teenage soccer players expressed their joy over the discovery of the boys nine days after they went missing. Anderson said the so-called positive pressure diving masks used by the boys were "crucial".

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

Thai rescuers were assisted by an global team comprising experts from China, Australia, the U.S. and Britain. A former member of Thailand's navy SEAL unit died during a mission in the cave on Friday. One of the boys lies on it covered in a metallic, reflective material. They became trapped in the cave, a local tourist spot where similar incidents have taken place in the past, when sudden rainfall flooded its entry on June 23.

Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, told a news conference involving officials involved in the rescue that "everyone is strong in mind and heart".

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It emerged last night that the pumps draining water from the cave dramatically failed shortly after the final boy was rescued. An American military diver added: "Those kids were proper knocked out".

But he denied they were knocked out for the miraculous rescue. The diver who spoke to AFP said the boys were "groggy" but "breathing" when he helped to pull them out, while the BBC reported that according to divers, the boys were "heavily sedated to avoid anxiety".

The members of the "Wild Boars" team, aged 11-16, had no experience in scuba diving, and the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who had helped install oxygen tanks in preparation for the rescue underscored the dangers of the mission.

Two of the first group had a lung infection as well, and Thongchai said they would need medicine for seven days.

There's now not one but two movies about the Thai cave rescue in the pipeline.

One of the British divers said: "I was told the boys were given a dose of ketamine [a horse tranquilliser often used as a recreational drug] to keep them calm". The Thai Navy SEALs have also published dramatic footage of the operation, showing how expert divers brought the Wild Boar football team to the surface.

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