The 12 Thai boys who were rescued from a cave last week addressed the media on Wednesday following their release from the hospital, offering fresh details of how they became stuck and were rescued.
A health official said all 12 members of the Wild Boar soccer team, plus their 25-year-old coach, are in good health physically and emotionally. They’re looking forward to going home and returning to their lives.
Team members took turns introducing themselves, telling reporters which position they play.
Dul, one of the players, recounted the moments when he realized that a rescuer had located them. He heard noises and implored his teammates to be quiet, he said, to determine whether he was dreaming or if people had actually found them.
“When the rescuer emerged I said ‘Hello,’” Dul said, realizing that the rescuer wasn’t Thai but British.
The rescuer asked how many people were stuck, requiring Dul to translate, added the coach, named Ake. Dul was having trouble understanding because of intense hunger, but Ake said he told him to remain patient.
“Our hearts burst, it was the first time we can say to ourselves that there’s hope now,” another boy said.
Ake said the team agreed to explore the cave after they had heard about it on Facebook. They saw water once they entered, but found themselves trapped when they tried to make their way out. Contrary to what has been reported, he added, all of the boys know how to swim.
They tried to dig their way out, Ake said, and he consoled the boys who were scared. They assumed they would either get out by the next day or would get rescued. In the meantime, they drank water from the cave’s walls.
“We had no food, we only drank water,” another boy said.
The boys took turns digging, but the water continued to rise, according to Ake.
Once the divers had located them, they passed the time waiting to be rescued by playing checkers with the diving team.
One of the divers, Saman Kunan, died during the mission, and the boys felt guilty for the loss, Ake said. The boys wrote messages of gratitude to Kunan’s family, which they displayed during the news conference.
It took almost two weeks for Thai Navy SEALs to locate the boys and begin the rescue. An international team of more than 100, including 18 divers, performed the rescue in stages, bringing the boys out on stretchers one by one. The Thai government released videos along the way, showing the boys in good spirits, enjoying food and medical checkups, as they waited to be brought back to land.
Several of the boys said they want to become either soccer players or Navy SEALs when they grow up, drawing applause from people watching the news conference.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.