Thai cave rescue: Boys to front media conference after release from hospital


For the first time since their dramatic rescue from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, all 12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach appeared in public to tell their story and pay tribute to those who helped save their lives.

The news conference, to be held in a government building, will be the first opportunity the members of the team have to speak directly to the media, though video of them was released previously. Here, photos from their press conference in Chiang Rai.

The 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old football coach were discharged from a hospital in the northern province of Chiang Rai on Wednesday and later made their first public appearance.

The boys described the moment they realised they were trapped in the cave as the water level started to rise.

"We drank water that fell from the rocks", said Pornchai Khamluan, 16.

They were found almost two weeks after disappearing, having survived by drinking the water dripping off the caves roof that is naturally filtered.

It brought Thai Navy SEALs and global cave diving experts together to pull off the fiendishly hard task of first locating the missing boys and then extracting them through miles of flooded passageways, as a breathless world looked on.

The boys left the hospital at around 5:00 p.m. local time wearing their soccer uniforms emblazoned with their "Wild Boar" team logo.

Doctors said the boys gained around 3 kilograms on average since they were rescued from the cave last week.

But he said his teammate holding the flashlight was scared, so Adul told him "If you're not going to go, then I'll go".

"We ask everyone to give them personal space and time to be with their families and school", they said.

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The team's youngest member, who goes by the name Titan, added, "I had no strength". "When I'm starving, I don't think of food otherwise it'd make me more hungry".

Coach Ekapol Chanthawong - who helped the boys remain calm throughout the ordeal by leading them in Buddhist meditation - explained that he and the boys had planned to only spend an hour in the cave ahead of practice since some of the boys had been there before and wanted to return.

A former Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, died while placing spare air tanks along the escape route in preparation for the team's rescue.

Once they were found, the boys quickly bonded with the divers who treated them and brought them supplies in the week it took to figure out how to get them through the tunnels and back out of the cave.

"I am very happy to be home".

"We'll do whatever he wants", he said.

Nine days passed before the boys were found by two British rescue divers.

"For me, Thai Navy SEALs are like our fathers and we're their sons", said 13-year-old Panumas Saengdee to the applause of the crowd.

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.

"We'll do whatever he wants", Banphot said.

"We are planning the date and will do it whenever all the families are all ready", Banphot said.