The British diver who found 12 Thai boys and their coach trapped alive in a flooded cave has described his “massive relief” as he counted them one by one, in what he called an unprecedented rescue operation.
The whole world breathed a huge sigh of relief when the 12 school boys and their assistant coach were pulled out of the flooded cave in Thailand completely unharmed, bringing an end to the near three-week ordeal that spurred an worldwide rescue effort.
A screen grab shows boys rescued from the Thai cave wearing mask and resting in a hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand from a July 11, 2018 handout video.
They had been trapped by rising floodwater more than two miles within the cave complex since June 23. “Don’t worry about me now, I’m safe”, said 15-year-old Pipat Photi.
The hunt to find them turned into an worldwide rescue operation involving thousands of people, from specialist divers to an army of local volunteers.
“I’m getting better, (I want to eat) KFC”, Adul Sam-on, 14, a stateless child born in Myanmar’s Wa state, tells the camera before turning to English to thank the world for helping rescue them.
Two of the boys with pneumonia are responding well to treatment, and all are expected to be able to return home to their families on Thursday.
The 13-year-old captain of the team, Dom, lost about 9 pounds, his family said. “If the passage was low and wide you’d hold it to the side”, he said.
Asked if their actions might be seen as insensitive at such a delicate time, co-producer Adam Smith said: “There’s going to be other production companies coming in so we have to act pretty quickly”.
“Coach Ek told the boys to build a wall to block the water but to no avail because the water ran very strong and fast”.
The boys’ coach thanked “every ministry that helped me” and the prime minister, Thai navy SEALs and the doctors.
They were brought out safely following an extraordinary saga of worldwide cooperation and ingenuity, as experts from many fields planned how to manoeuvre all 13 out alive.
He and and health permanent secretary Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk went to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital to visit the 13 people.
The boys and their coach have been in hospital since then. A former Thai navy SEAL diver died during the mission.
Kunan died due to a lack of oxygen on his way out of Tham Luang on the morning of Jul 6. “I am very thank you so heavy, thank you so much”. “But it’s really the worldwide team I would like to focus on and the Thai SEALs”.