The 12 boys and their football coach rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand left a hospital today for their first public appearance at a nationally-broadcast news conference in the northern province of Chiang Rai.
The boys, aged 11 to 16, with their 25-year-old coach.
According to the boys' 25-year-old coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, it was the entire team, under the guidance of global divers and the Thai Navy SEALS, who decided which boys to rescue from the cave first. Before speaking they kicked the balls around in front of a stage to show they were all healthy.
Numerous young boys said they wanted to apologise to their parents as they had not told them they were going to explore the cave. They were said to have lost an average of nine pounds while they were trapped in the cave. "The water went up to my shoulder". I said "hello" or something like that. The group weren't afraid, and thought they would be found, said Ake. "There's only one direction in the cave", he said. The group found an area about 650 feet up a rock and made a decision to stay there for the night.
"We used rocks to dig out the cave wall", said Phanumas Saengdee, 13.
Fortunately they had a fresh water supply.
But he said his teammate holding the flashlight was scared, so Samon told him "If you're not going to go, then I'll go". "We dug 3 to 4 meters". "So the persons who live the furthest away would be allowed to go out first... so that they can go out and tell everyone that we were inside, we were okay". And in the excitement of being found, he rushed to spoke to the diver.
As the boys looked forward to returning to their homes, justice ministry official Tawatchai Thaikaew asked for their privacy to be respected.
The Brit asked the team asked how many of them were present.
As for the future - at least five of the team say they want to grow up to be Navy SEALs, and one has his sights firmly set on playing soccer for Thailand.
"They felt like they were the reason he had to die and his family had to suffer".
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The youngest member of the team, Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, is only 11.
'When I first came back home, there were so many people waiting for me.
Film production houses have said they are looking into a Hollywood-style treatment of the harrowing ordeal, which captivated people around the world as the risky operation to extract the team unfolded. Lessons learned Officials released the team from Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital at about 5 p.m. Wednesday local time. A video of the goodbye event was played at the press conference. Many said they want to be either professional footballers or Thai Navy SEALs.
One of the boys, Tee said, "We only drank water". One promised to be "more careful and live my life the fullest" from now on.
A sudden downpour had also flooded the entrance of the tunnel, thus trapping all 13 of them inside. Also there was a greeting party of relatives and neighbors who showered him with affection.
Saman died on July 6 after losing consciousness during a mission to place oxygen tanks deep inside the cave, just two days before the first boys were brought to safety.
"Be calm, be cool", one of the boys recalled telling his coach, asking him to slow down.
"This is the happiest day of my life", she told AFP in an interview. The final group had stayed in the cave for 18 days by the time they were saved. Almost a decade ago, his parents slipped him out of Myanmar and into Thailand to escape ethnic conflicts.
The boys' friends, family and nurses from Chiang Rai Hospital were smiling and willing them on from the sidelines.
They were treated for minor infections.
The boys went missing on 23 June and were found by divers on 2 July.