Rescuers freed the last four of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from deep inside a flooded cave on Tuesday, a successful end to an extraordinarily perilous mission that gripped the world for more than two weeks.
The Royal Thai Navy SEALs also confirmed the four were out - writing in a Facebook post in English, "All 4 Thai Navy SEALs came out safely". "We had imagined all sorts of catastrophic situations - equipment breaking, children panicking", he said, adding that the officials had backup options in mind in case anything falls apart.
The final boy and the team's coach were brought out of the cave at 6:50 p.m. local time on Tuesday. A few hours later, three ambulances, lights flashing, were also seen leaving the site. Above them, a bald eagle symbolizing the United States flaps its wings next to the face of Iron Man - a reference to "Mr. Elon Musk", who sent engineers from his companies Space X and Boring Co.to help with rescue efforts last week.
So far the group have been "kept away" from physical contact with their parents until the risk of infection is over and doctors have only allowed family and loved ones to see them through glass. They did get a treat, however: bread with chocolate spread that they had requested.
The football team had spent the past week building their strength and learning to dive after they were discovered inside the cave by British divers last Monday.
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The victor will face either Croatia or England, who play Thursday (2am Malaysia time ), in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday. In Belgium's corner will be France's 1998 World Cup victor Thierry Henry who is now a member of the Belgian coaching staff.
Four boys out of cave, rescue operation to continue
He said he expects some of them will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. "We have more expertise than yesterday", he said. Asked how the authorities had decided which boys were to be taken out first, Mr Narongsak said: "Their health".
The plight of the boys and their coach has drawn worldwide attention since they became trapped when they went into the cave after soccer practice on June 23. He was taken by helicopter and ambulance to the same hospital in Chiang Rai where the first four boys rescued Sunday by a team of global and Thai dive experts are being treated.
Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around in hospital.
"The kids are footballers, so they have high immune systems", Jedsada said.
It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, Jedsada said.
TRANQUILLIZERS AND QUARANTINE Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who visited the cave on Monday, said the boys had been given tranquillizers to stop them getting stressed on the way out of the cave, but he dismissed any suggestion they had been "sedated". "It was 11 hours on the first day, and 9 hours on the second day", the former Chiang Rai governor said. The first boys rescued in what's been a days-long process were in "high spirits" and generally appeared "healthy", according to the Associated Press.