Rising waters, no air: How Thai cave rescue nearly went wrong

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They were found 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, and divers and other worldwide rescuers plotted the complex mission to rescue the team before more rain came.

The boys were described as generally being in normal condition in a Chiang Rai hospital, though their levels of recuperation varied because they were removed from the cave over three days.

"This victory goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong", French midfielder Paul Pogba tweeted after his team beat Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday to reach the final.

It also involved about 90 divers in all, 50 of them from overseas, as well as medics, ambulance drivers, and helicopter pilots to take the boys straight to hospital in the town of Chiang Rai. "They are children being children, it was an accident", Narongsak said.

There was a celebratory mood at the cave entrance, hours after the rescue ended.

Two days before the dramatic rescue bid began, another retired SEAL, Saman Kunan, died trying to set up oxygen tanks in a flooded tunnel.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said last week, after the team had been found alive, that it planned to promote the Tham Luang cave complex in the province of Chiang Rai as a tourism attraction as it had featured so heavily in news stories around the world.

He was the last man out of the cave Tuesday but emerged to tragedy, learning of his father's death shortly after the rescue had completed.

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Before the mission got underway on Sunday, rescue workers warned it would be a delicate operation.

"This is clearly a time of grief for the Harris family, magnified by the physical and emotional demands of being part of this week's highly complex and ultimately successful rescue mission".

The extensive search-and-rescue operation, which included more than 1,000 people from various nations, has now switched to a treatment process.

"We're just very happy that the boys are out and safe", Volanthen said. "Without him, in this operation, I don't think we could have succeeded". They would then need to recuperate at home for 30 days, he said.

"Wild Boars, keep fighting!" they chanted. They were told to remain calm and motionless as two divers prepared to tug them through murky waters and along guide ropes that had been put in place.

Indeed, it was almost another week before the first of the "Wild Boars" soccer team was brought out of the cave by elite divers who had, with Thai special forces, planned the rescue meticulously - but quickly, as more rains threatened. "We have to see whether they were born in Thailand and whether they have either a Thai father or mother".

Earlier on Wednesday, the head of the Thai Navy Seals told the BBC that "hope became reality" with the rescue of the boys and their coach from the Tham Luang cave.

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