Cave boys speak of 'miracle' rescue

Croatian kit

Croatian kit

Earlier, the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach left hospital where they have stayed since last week's worldwide effort to extricate them from a flooded cave complex where they had been trapped.

CHIANG RAI, Thailand The youth soccer teammates rescued from a flooded cave began their first day back home with their families today by going to a Buddhist temple to pray for protection from misfortunes.

But the Navy SEALs team showed they could adapt and face the situation with the equipment and resources they had at hand, and the British cave rescue team chose to carry on until the end, he added.

After spending a night at home numerous boys attended a ceremony the next morning at Wat Pha That Doi Wao in Mae Sai near the Myanmar border where they prayed for longevity and a good life.

The 12 Thai boys and their football coach who were recently rescued from a flooded cave made their first public appearance on Wednesday (Jul 18) at a nationally broadcast news conference in the northern province of Chiang Rai. They were rescued thanks to the efforts of British divers and other experts in a highly publicised rescue mission.

The team's 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong.

Ake said the group was very sad to hear about the case of the Thai Navy SEAL who had died during the rescue effort, and felt somewhat guilty that they may have caused his death.

The boys entered the Tham Luang cave June 23 for what was to be a quick activity after soccer practice.

While numerous boys wanted to be pro soccer players when they grow up, at least four of them said they hope to become navy SEALs, so they could help others.

Boys trapped in a Thai cave
Boys trapped in a Thai cave

The boys also paid tribute to volunteer diver Saman Gunman, who lost his life while installing oxygen tanks in the flooded cave complex.

"I thought this is really a miracle and I did not respond to him", he said.

Thailand's rescued cave boys woke up in their own homes for the first time in more than three weeks this morning, with many rising at dawn to take part in a religious ceremony. "We were determined to find a way out".

"We used rocks to dig out the cave wall", said Phanumas Saengdee, 13.

On Wednesday, the boys and their coach sat down for their first press conference to talk about their ordeal.

Numerous boys also apologized to their parents for not telling them they went to the cave. He said, "I was afraid". They said the boys have gained an average of six pounds since they were rescued last week.

The boy added, laughing: "I've already eaten what I wanted to eat".

Another said that he has realised that life is precious.

Rescuers debated the best plan to bring them out but ultimately decided on a risky operation that involved diving them through waterlogged passages while they were sedated to keep them calm, and carrying them out in military-grade stretchers. Ardoon, 14, said though people can't predict the future, the experience had taught him about the consequences of acting careless. Some of them aspire to become Navy SEALs when they grow up while some dream of becoming professional footballers.

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