I'm really thankful that they found my son and all 13 are alive.
The most unsafe part of the journey out of the labyrinthine cave system was the first kilometer, during which they were required to squeeze through a narrow flooded channel.
Despite their mostly good health, all the boys need to be observed in the hospital for seven days and then rest at home for another 30 days.
Extraordinary video footage shows how the boys were carted on stretchers for sections of the tunnel not flooded.
"Our thanks and greatest admiration go the British lead divers, and support divers along the route in and out of the cave system from the EU, US, China and Australia, as well as the vast number of participants from military and civilian organisations in various support roles". Officials initially anxious they could remain trapped for months.
"On behalf of the operation unit, we want to send our condolences to him and I do have to thank him a lot", Thai mission commander Narongsak Osotthanakorn said at a news conference Wednesday. There were also doctors stationed throughout the journey to monitor the condition of the boys, AFP reported.
Rescuers also had to step over miles of tubes that had been laid down to pump out water.
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On Wednesday, the first footage of the boys convalescing in hospital in the northern city of Chiang Rai emerged, with some, wearing face masks and hospital gowns, giving peace signs for the camera.
The members of the "Wild Boars" team, aged 11-16, had no experience in scuba diving, and the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who had helped install oxygen tanks in preparation for the rescue underscored the dangers of the mission.
The aim was to make each of the boys "tightly packaged" so divers could keep control of them and adjust their air supply as needed.
Ropes were used inside the cave as gushing water made the escape even more risky for the Thai boys. "We were extremely fortunate that the outcome was the way it was".
Experts say the divers brought a variety of skills, including the ability to install guide lines that help in low visibility, and previous experience in global operations.
One of the men most responsible for the success of the rescue is Australian anaesthetist and underwater cave explorer Richard Harris, who was part of the 20-strong Australian rescue contingent.