The 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach have described their rescue from a flooded cave as a miracle. Dressed in matching team shirts, the Wild Boars appeared happy and relaxed as they faced the world’s media after being discharged from the hospital in Chiang Rai on Wednesday.
“When they came out of the water, I was surprised. I didn’t know what to [say] to them. I said ‘Hello’, or something like that. When they said ‘hello’ to me, I said ‘hello’ back,” one of the boys, Adul Sam-on said. “It was so magnificent.”
Sam-on, 14, the only member of the team who speaks English, told the crowd of his surprise on hearing the voices of rescuers after a week trapped underground.
“In the evening, we were sitting around and we heard someone … And I asked our team members to quiet down, because I heard some conversation,” he said. “I started to listen and it became reality.”
The coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, 25, explained why the boys went into the cave. “This trip we intended it to be a study, to familiarise the trip so, that the next time we can have a proper trip to Tham Luang,” he said.
They had planned to be there only an hour. When they went to leave, they realised they were trapped. “We were determined to find a way out. We tried to calm down. I told everyone to fight on, to have a good spirit, don’t give up,” he added.
They thought up a plan to dig a passageway for the water to flow through — but it didn’t go down at all. “Everyone decided, ‘OK, let’s go and find a place to sleep, don’t worry, maybe it was just because the water rose and then it would recede later’.”
One boy described feeling dizzy with hunger and said the team had survived by drinking water that trickled down the cave walls.
“I stopped thinking about food because it would make me even hungrier,” the youngest one said.
“My opinion was, if we are not able to [find] that way out, then we will die in the middle,” another added.
The boys in the team were aged between 11 and 16, while their coach was 25. The team initially set off for their adventure on June 23 and an international rescue mission began on July 2 – more than a week after they vanished. Flash floods had made it nearly impossible for the team to escape the cave.