MAE SAI, Thailand As ecstatic relatives watched and waved from behind a glass barrier, the 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from deep within a flooded cave in Thailand made the V-for-Victory sign today from their beds in a hospital isolation ward where they are recovering from the 18-day ordeal.
The rescue was carried out by an elite team of global divers, led by Britons, who guided the sluggish youngsters along the tortuous two-and-a-half-mile escape route, the Daily Mail reports.
Thai Navy SEALs release footage of the dramatic cave rescue mission.
The boys were taken to hospital, where they are believed to be recovering from the treacherous journey.
"Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers".
The boys were reportedly sedated though there have been conflicting reports about the kind of medicine they received, with some saying they got anti-anxiety medication to keep them calm while Peeranarong said some of them had been fully sedated.
Footage released by the Thai Navy SEALs showed foreign and Thai divers using pulleys, ropes and rubber piping to haul stretchers bearing two of the barely moving young footballers to safety, their exit framed by the jagged cave overhead.
Initially, authorities thought they faced a reasonably easy task in getting the boy outs, but rescue efforts were quickly thwarted by rain and rising water levels inside the partially flooded passageways.
The chief national correspondent for abc has revealed that shortly after the rescue of the last four players, the main pump failed, according to military sources. "At this time, now that the coach is out, just wait until he gives any statements and let's just wait altogether and find out at the same time", he said in an interview. "They are children being children, it was an accident", Narongsak said.
He was asked for by name to join the rescue mission after his abilities had earned him a worldwide reputation.
Although the boys spent nine days without food and more than two weeks in the dark, damp cave, they seem to be in good health.
The group remains in quarantine in a Chiang Rai hospital where one of the last batch of people to leave the cave has "lung conditions", he said.
Closer to home, Chiang Rai locals rejoiced at the odds-upsetting rescue bid.
"It's really a miracle", she said.
Rescuers had weighed several options to save the boys, including keeping them in the cave through the months-long monsoon season.
But they were prodded into the risky task of "diving out" the team through submerged chambers and claustrophobic passages as oxygen levels in the cave plummeted and rains menaced.
Highlighting the dangers, a former Thai navy SEAL volunteering to work on the rescue effort died Saturday while replenishing oxygen canisters that were placed along the escape route.
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- Remaining boys, coach, doctor trapped in Thailand cave 'to be rescued today'