The first pictures of the Thai youth football team who were rescued from a cave in Northern Thailand have emerged.
All twelve boys and their 25-year-old coach are currently being treated in hospital after spending two weeks trapped in a flooded cave in Chiang Rai.
The grainy images show the children wearing hospital gowns and downing medical masks, with one of the children throwing up a ‘V for Victory’ sign.
The pictures of the children were published as details regarding the complex rescue effort began to come out. The Thai Navy Seals involved in the mammoth rescue operation also uploaded a video which demonstrated how they rescued the boys and their coach, according to the BBC.
According to their sources, including those involved in the operation, the boys had to be heavily sedated before they began the process to get them out. This was to ensure they did not panic in the dark, narrow, underwater passageways.
Furthermore, they had to be strapped to one of two rescue divers who were responsible for guiding the children through Tham Luang cave’s complex network of tunnels. Once they got out they were put on to medical stretchers and carried to a dry part of Chiang Rai.
Just hours into the rescue conflicting reports began to emerge regarding the degree of sedation the boys were under, before they were evacuated from the cave. Prayut Chan-o-cha, the prime minister of Thailand refuted claims they were sedated, claiming they were only given light anti-anxiety medication, normally given to soldiers.
However several sources have stated the boys were only moderately conscious as they were brought out.
Regardless of how the rescue operation was carried out, it proved successful.
The team, which consisted of divers and aid workers, worked tirelessly to ensure the kids and their coach made it out of the cave.
Just after 13:00, July 8, the first two boys from the football team emerged from the cave as rescue workers faced a race against time to beat an oncoming monsoon which would have flooded the cave ‘like a tsunami’.
When they were discovered they were apparently meditating, all thanks to coach Ekapol Chanthawong. He was orphaned at age 10, before training to be a monk. However he left the monastery to care for his grandmother and became a manager for a new football team.
His aunt, Umporn Sriwichai, said of him, as reported by news.com.au:
I always believed that Chanthawong would help them keep calm and optimistic, and he loved us very much.
Because he had experienced the pain of losing loved ones since he was very young … we cannot stand such tragedies anymore.
It was Chanthawong who taught the boys to meditate in order to preserve their energy and maintain calm.
After all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave, they were taken to a nearby hospital to check for any injuries or illnesses they may have picked up during their two-week ordeal.
Well done to everybody involved in making sure these young boys made it out in one piece. Also, well done to the boys and their coach for maintaining their high spirits.
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