The twelve members of the Wild Boars football team, and their coach, have spoken publicly for the first time after being rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand.
The rescue mission lasted from Sunday 8th July to Tuesday 10th July. On each day, four members of the team were saved, except for the last day which resulted in the rescue of the remaining five trapped. The weakest were taken out first.
All members of the group wore full-face breathing masks, which are easier to breathe through for amateurs, in order to get through the cave complex. They were sedated to stay calm, before two divers were then assigned to each boy. For underwater sections, one boy was secured to a diver, whilst another diver followed behind. Dive lines ensured that divers could navigate their way through the cave. In tighter sections, divers took off their air tanks and squeezed the boys and their tanks through. Chamber three, which was the last section of the exit route, was crossed on foot.
A few hours after the last person was freed, water pumps draining the section of the cave used in the rescue mission failed. The 100 workers, alongside the three Australian divers trapped inside the cave at the time, all made it out within an hour.
The twelve teammates and their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, were treated in hospital immediately, and were released on July 18th. They were thankful to everyone involved in their safe return, and vowed to be more “careful” and “strong” in the future. However, they also paid their respects to Saman Kunan, the ex-Thai navy seal who died delivering oxygen to the group. Chantawong stated; “we are impressed that Saman sacrificed his life to save us so that we could go and live our lives.
Once we heard the news, we were shocked,” he said.
“We were very sad. We felt like… we caused sadness to his family.”