Incredible operation in pictures: All 12 boys, coach rescued from Thailand cave

Australian doctor and diver Richard Harris

Elon Musk has questioned the expertise of Thai rescue officials who turned down his offer of a submarine, despite their having organised the successful rescue of all 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave.

"They must have passed through about 150 hands", one of the divers said at a briefing in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand today.

Nearly all of the rescued were flown in helicopters, then driven in ambulances to a Chiang Rai hospital.

Onlookers at the junction in front of Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital watch and cheer as ambulances transport the last rescued schoolboys and their coach, July 10, 2018, in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

The dozen players - aged 11 to 16 - and the coach had already received an invitation from Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino last week to attend the World Cup final on Sunday in Moscow - although after their traumatic experience they may not be up to the trip physically or mentally.

Near the mouth of the Thai cave where the Wild Boars soccer team was trapped are two small shrines where locals prayed to the rain god Phra Pirun.

Despite the heavy rain that fell the night before the third and final rescue, the water levels didn't rise, which meant it was possible for the boys and their coach to walk and wade through a longer distance underground.

The extraordinary 72-hour operation, led by expert British cave diver Richard Stanton, has involved rescue experts from 18 countries working with the Thai forces.

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The soccer teammates had become trapped in the cave June 23 and were finally extracted by experienced divers over three days.

"I'm very happy that children are all out", said one of the men employed by the Thai government to help with the rescue.

Celebrations will be tinged with sadness over the loss of a former Thai navy diver who died last Friday while on a re-supply mission inside the cave in support of the rescue.

Nevertheless, the boys would remain in quarantine in hospital until doctors were sure they had not contracted any infections from inside the cave.

Rescue workers take a rest as they remove the machines used to save the boys. They were trapped in a cave in northern Thailand for more than a fortnight.

"The kids are footballers, so they have high immune systems", Jedsada told a news conference. "FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation and we will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a Federation Internationale de Football Association event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration". They have had to stay away from their parents and other people for fear of infection. He said they must be treated at the hospital for at least seven days.

US President Trump said their rescue was "a handsome moment".

When the first four were rescued, one of the first things they asked was how the tournament was going.

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