12 Thai soccer players, coach rescued from cave released from hospital

CHIANG RAI, Thailand — The youth soccer teammates rescued after 18 days trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand were released from the hospital Wednesday and spoke about their ordeal.

A news conference with the 12 boys and their coach was held in the northern city of Chiang Rai, where the boys have been recovering in a hospital since last week.

The 13 entered to applause from the media and classmates.

The boys put on a quick demonstration of their ball-handling skills in a special miniature soccer field set up in the hall where they met the media.

They then hugged their friends before taking seats up front with doctors and others who helped them during their ordeal.

Doctors took the first two questions, and said the 13 were healthy in body and mind.

Doctors said the boys gained about 6.6 pounds on average since they were rescued from the cave last week.

They were said to have lost an average of 9 pounds during the more than two weeks they were trapped in the cave.

The Wild Boars teammates had entered the Tham Luang cave on June 23 for a quick, relaxing excursion after soccer practice.

But rain began falling while they were underground, and the water filled the caverns, cutting off their escape.

Divers found the group huddling on a spot of dry ground deep inside the cave 10 days later, hungry but generally healthy.

An international team of rescuers using diving equipment and pulleys extracted the 12 boys and coach through the tight, flooded passageways over three days, concluding July 10.

Some of the boys were treated for minor infections during their hospital stay, but all 13 have been described as recovering well.

The family of one of the boys was preparing their home for his return Wednesday night.

Banphot Konkum, an uncle who has raised 13-year-old Duangpetch Promthep, said he’ll have a renovated bedroom and gifts awaiting him.

“We’ll do whatever he wants. If he wants anything we’ll buy it for him as a present as we promised that when he gets out, whatever he wants we’ll do it for him,” Banphot said.

AlertMe