Thai soccer team and coach released from hospital, talk about rescue

Rescued Thai children recall cave ordeal

Thai soccer team and coach released from hospital, talk about rescue

Doctors said all 13 were in good physical and mental health after recuperating in hospital. All expressed their thanks and apologized for not telling their parents of their plan.

They became trapped when the cave they were exploring for fun was hit by flash floods on June 23.

When asked about lessons they've learned from the incident, Ake said he was going to live life more carefully. But when they attempted to head back to the cave's intersection, their only route out, they realized it was flooding.

Ekapol tried out their only escape path.

Two of the boys held up a drawing of Saman Kunan. If they felt a command - two tugs - it meant he was stuck and needed to be pulled out. I said: 'Do you want to go in because we have one hour?' They said they were only supposed to be in there for one hour.

During the first 10 days, there was one particularly worrying moment that caused the group to shift course.

"We weren't sure if it was for real", said 14-year-old Adul Samon.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach gave a press conference today in which they all looked smiley and happy despite what must have been a very traumatic experience. It had been suggested the boys had been engaged in an initiation rite, or had been celebrating a team-member's birthday.

Despite the hunger, Chanin Vibulrungruang, 11, said he tried not to think of food, filling his stomach with the water trickling down the cave wall.

On Monday, they also confirmed that Dr Harris, Dr Challen and another Australian medical professional had been granted diplomatic immunity in the event that the mission went wrong.

"It was a miracle", Adul said, describing his shock when he saw the British divers. As they started to leave, they found their exit path flooded.

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Another boy said they began digging in shifts. So he took the boys deeper into the cave, assuming that if they waited until the morning the water level would drop enough to make it safe for them to cross. The coach asked him to hurry, afraid the diver would miss them. "We tried to dig out as we thought we can not only wait for authorities to get us", the coach said.

"I had to think a lot before I could answer their questions", he said.

A video of the moment was released by the Thai Navy SEALS. Members of the Thai navy SEALs and an global team of cave-diving experts organized the rescue effort.

The boys are recovering in the hospital after 18 days in the flooded Tham Luang cave. On average, each boy gained about 6 1/2 pounds since the rescue.

The coach added that he asked the boys if they wanted to explore and told them they would have to swim. They lost track of how many days they had been lost. To pass the time, the boys played chess with the SEALs, who provided high-protein rations to restore some of their strength.

For now, however, the boys are heading home to be reunited with their families and can finally enjoy some of the pork and rice they longed for while in the cave.

"They were like my brothers, like my family", Coach Ek said of the SEALs. We slept at this sand spot.

Adun is one of at least three boys, as well as their coach Ekkapol Chantawong, who are stateless and sought refuge in Thailand. Picture: SuppliedThe boys sketched a tribute to the Thai diver who died during the mission. However, contact with the boys are limited as there is concern that the boys may suffer psychological damage.

They thought up a plan to dig a passageway for the water to flow through - but it didn't go down at all.

"I told them I was going to Tham Khun Nam", he said. "I told Mig to go down".

Mahtani reported from Singapore.

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