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Thai boys in hospital after cave rescue

CHIANG RAI, JUL 11 (AFP)
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Published on 11 Jul. 2018 11:28 PM IST
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Video footage emerged today of several of the Thai boys rescued from a flooded cave recuperating in hospital, as the stunning images of the youngsters being freed from their ordeal on stretchers was also released for the first time. 
The video shows several of the “Wild Boars” football team in hospital, after being rescued from the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand in a three-day operation which ended successfully yesterday.
Doctors have said they are in good physical and mental health -- a view backed up by the footage made available by the Thai government showing them behind quarantine glass in bed wearing smocks and facemasks, flashing peace signs and doing the traditional “wai” greeting. 
They do not look shell-shocked or stunned despite a potentially harrowing 18 days inside a dank, dark cave followed by a risky rescue operation that was dubbed “Mission Impossible”. 
A former Thai Navy SEAL died while helping install oxygen tanks in preparation for the extraction. Later Thai Navy SEALs posted clips from the painstaking rescue that was carried out in three phases ending yesterday. 
It showed divers in headlights and scuba-gear carrying out the boys on heavy-duty stretchers. Experts have warned of possible long-term trauma from their experience in Tham Luang but medical officials have issued a drumbeat of mostly positive news about their condition, saying they are eating normal food and even asking for chocolate. 
The boys rescued from a Thai cave were passed “sleeping” on stretchers through the treacherous pathways, a former Thai Navy SEAL who was the last diver to leave the Tham Luang complex told AFP today.
The details of the complex operation are among the first to emerge from a rescue effort to save 12 boys and their football coach that has been shrouded in secrecy since it began on Sunday and ended successfully three days later.
“Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers... (as if) groggy, but they were breathing,” Commander Chaiyananta Peeranarong said, adding that doctors stationed along the dark corridors of the Tham Luang cave were constantly checking their condition and pulse.
“My job was to transfer them along,” he said, adding the “boys were wrapped up in stretchers already when they were being transferred”.
Thailand’s junta chief told reporters yesterday that the group had been given a “minor tranquiliser” to help calm their nerves.
But he denied they were knocked out for the miraculous rescue.
The lack of information about the meticulously planned rescue had baffled observers given that the team were extracted safely.
The members of the “Wild Boars” team, aged 11-16, had no experience in scuba diving, and the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who had helped install oxygen tanks in preparation for the rescue underscored the dangers of the mission.
Thailand said it had called on 13 “world class” divers to help with the unprecedented job, one of whom was Australian Richard “Harry” Harris, a diver and professional anaesthetist.
Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters today that the entire operation would not have been possible without the unique skills that Harris brought to the mission, though he did not elaborate.
The international bid to extract the team garnered attention from around the world after the team found themselves trapped on June 23 when they entered the cave after practice and were blocked by floodwaters.

 
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