The 12 youth football teammates who were trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than two weeks are finally out, and now they are being closely monitored in a hospital. "It's important to realize how complex and how many pieces of this puzzle had to come together".
The boys, all between the ages of 11 and 16, are now being kept largely in isolation to prevent infections from outsiders, AP reports, but most presented with few serious health conditions; some are beginning to eat solid food and walk around.
"Don't need to worry about their physical health and even more so for their mental health", said Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.
In a statement, a Federation Internationale de Football Association spokesperson said: "FIFA would like to express its great joy at the news of the rescue of the 12 young footballers and their coach". Doctors suspected two had lung infections - probably pneumonia - based on irregular X-rays.
The remarkable mission that claimed the life of one rescue diver but defied the odds otherwise found all 13 members of the Wild Boars soccer team pulled from Tham Luang Cave in relative good health. "The coach was the one to choose", he said.
The 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach had wandered into the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23 after finishing soccer practice but became trapped after torrential rain.
They were found by a pair of British divers 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny.
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He also acknowledged the loss of a former navy SEAL, Saman Kunan, who died last week while replenishing air tanks inside the cave.
The complex mission for the rescuers from Thailand, the U.S., Britain, Australia and other countries to guide the boys and coach through the cave's flooded passageways riveted people worldwide.
"We did something nobody thought possible", the acting governor of Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said once the 18-day ordeal was over.
Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has thanked people involved in the rescue, saying the government's efforts, the assistance of people in Thailand and overseas, and the outpouring of moral support made the mission a success.
Rescue officials said the museum would showcase how the operation unfolded, adding that it would be a "major attraction" for Thailand.
The boys were malnourished and weak, and doctors are probably anxious that they could be susceptible to germs spread by family members or other visitors, said Dr W Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University infectious diseases expert. They survived by drinking water dripping inside the cave. Relatively mild weather and a massive effort to pump out water created a window of opportunity. "This mission was successful because of cooperation from everyone", he said.
"They can't go, they have to stay in hospital for a while", Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, of the public health ministry, told reporters yesterday when asked about the offer to attend Sunday's match.