Thailand cave rescue: First footage emerges of boys in hospital

Media caption,
The boys give peace signs as they recover in hospital

The first footage has emerged from the hospital where 12 Thai boys and their coach are being treated after their dramatic rescue from a flooded cave.

Several boys can be seen in facemasks and hospital gowns, at least one giving a peace sign for the camera.

Meanwhile, reports say the boys and the coach were sedated to stop them panicking during the dangerous rescue.

The Thai Navy Seals also released new video showing the three-day rescue operation that captivated the world.

Divers who took part in the operation said the boys were heavily sedated to avoid anxiety as they went through the dark, narrow, underwater passageways.

Former Navy seal Chaiyananta Peeranarong told AFP news agency: "Some of them were asleep, and some of them were wiggling their fingers, kind of groggy - but they were breathing. My job was to transfer them along."

Each boy was strapped to one of two rescue divers tasked with shepherding him, and bundled onto stretchers to be carried through the dry parts.

Media caption,
Rescuers carry one of the boys on a stretcher

'A tiny bit of hope'

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.

"We had a little bit of hope that they might still be alive but we had to do it, we just had to move forward," Rear Adm Arpakorn Yuukongkaew said. "There was only a tiny bit of hope, but that's all we had to work with."

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The boys were rescued during a complex three-day operation
Image source, Thai government public relations department
Image caption,
Families were able to see the boys from a separate room

The group was trapped in the cave by rising water and rescued in a dramatic operation that captivated the world.

The complex, three-day rescue saw four boys emerge on Sunday, four on Monday, and the final four boys plus their coach on Tuesday. They survived the nine days before they were found by drinking water dripping from the cave walls, officials said.

Image source, Thai Navy Seal
Image caption,
A picture released by the Seal team shows a person being stretchered out of the cave

The boys lost on average 2kg (4.4lb) during their ordeal but are said to be in good physical condition. They will remain in hospital in the nearby city of Chiang Rai for a week, followed by a week's recuperation at home.

The first four boys have already been visited by their families, officials said, and the others will be allowed to receive visitors soon.

Media caption,
Rear Adm Arpakorn Yuukongkaew, head of the Thai navy seals: "There was only a tiny bit of hope"

There were cheers around the cave as the dozens of divers and hundreds of other rescue workers involved in the operation left the site.

In Chiang Rai, the news was greeted by the honking of car horns while people gathered outside the hospital broke into applause.

On social media, Thais showed their feelings about the rescuers by using hashtags including #Heroes and #Thankyou. Offers of hospitality for the boys, the coach and their rescuers have come in from international football clubs including Manchester United and Benfica.

How did the drama unfold?

Aged between about 11 and 17, the members of the Wild Boars football team entered the cave system in dry weather, during an excursion with their coach. The group was cut off on 23 June after heavy rains flooded the cave complex.

They were huddled in darkness on a ledge when they were found by British divers.

Elation at the discovery of the group quickly turned to concern as it became clear how difficult it would be to rescue boys who could not swim and had been weakened by their time underground.

Getting to and from the chamber where the group were trapped was an exhausting round trip even for experienced divers. The process involved a mixture of walking, wading, climbing and diving along guide ropes.

How did the boys survive?

The boys and their coach were trapped underground for a total of 17 days.

They reportedly entered the cave to celebrate one of the team's birthday, and the snacks they brought with them are thought to have helped sustain them.

Once found, they were given "easy-to-digest, high-energy food with vitamins and minerals, under the supervision of a doctor", said Rear Adm Arpakorn Yuukongkaew.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The boys, aged between 11 and 17, became trapped with their coach on 23 June
Image source, Thai Navy SEALs/Getty Images
Image caption,
Rescuers brought them food, light and letters from their parents to help them cope

Authorities said they seemed to cope well with the mental strain of their time underground. Rescue teams brought them lights and letters from their parents to help them cope.

Their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, reportedly taught the team how to meditate to cope with the stress. He trained for a decade as a Buddhist monk before turning to football.

Who are the boys and their coach?

Details have emerged of members of the team and their coach.

Captain Duganpet Promtep, 13, is described as a motivator and highly respected by his teammates. He had apparently been scouted by several Thai professional clubs.

Myanmar-born Adul Sam-on, 14, speaks several languages, and was the only team member to be able to communicate with British divers when they were first discovered.

It was 17-year-old Peerapat Sompiangjai's birthday when the group became trapped in the cave. The snacks the boys brought with them to celebrate are likely to have helped them survive their ordeal.

Assistant coach Ekapol Chantawong, 25, was said to be the weakest of the group when they were found, as he had reportedly refused to eat any of the food and gave it instead to the boys.