Twelve boys and their football coach who survived a highly unsafe and dramatic rescue from a flooded Thai cave were discharged from hospital Wednesday ahead of a press conference where they will tell their incredible story for the first time.
The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from a cave in northern Thailand described the moment they realized they finally had been found, as they appeared at a news conference Wednesday after leaving the hospital where they had been recuperating.
The group, which had eaten before going into the caves, took no food on an excursion that had been meant to last only an hour, and had to subsist on water dripping from stalactites in the cave, he added.
His coach, 25-year-old Ekkapol Ake Chanthawong, told the group to stay quiet.
The last of the group of 13 were brought out of the cave last Tuesday, ending a gruelling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of Samarn Kunan, a volunteer diver and former Thai Navy SEAL who came to help with the rescue mission.
Dressed in football fatigues and looking healthy, the "Wild Boars" football team spoke of their "miracle" rescue at a news conference on Wednesday, their first public appearance since getting trapped.
The boys, who sported crisp haircuts, had gained an average of 3 kg each since the rescue, and rain through confidence-building exercises ahead of Wednesday's event, the hospital director said. He said, "I was afraid". They took turns digging at the cave walls, hoping to find a way out.
The team's youngest member, who goes by the name Titan, added, "I had no strength".
Thai boys that lived furthest away left caves first
"I'm excited", he said, "that they are going to take our team to see the actual teams". The boys responded to pre-screened questions, and recounted how they got stuck inside the cave and survived for so many days without food.
The 12 boys rescued from a cave in northern Thailand have played football with some of the Navy Seals who helped save them. "But the following morning, when we found the water level had not subsided, we realised we were trapped", Ek revealed. But rainwater flooded the tunnels, trapping them inside.
"We have had experts look at each of the boys and I can confirm that we have checked for every possible disease and infection and now they are ready to go home", said a hospital official. I can confirm they are ready to go home, both mentally and physically.
The boys and coach were alone in the cave for nine days before British cavers discovered them on a muddy ledge.
Members of the rescued football team pray their respect and thanks in front of a portrait of Saman Gunan, the retired Thai SEAL diver who died during their rescue attempt.
"We'll do whatever he wants", Konkum said.
Following the news conference, about 30 relatives gathered at the home of 13-year-old Duangpetch Promthep to welcome him back, clapping their hands and cheering.
"Today we will get the answers to the questions we have been wondering, from the boys themselves", said Suthichai Yoon, presenter of the 45-minute programme being televised live on dozens of channels.More news: Amazon sells more than 100 million products on Prime Day event
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