Rescuers practiced on local children before saving Thai soccer team

Royal Thai Navy  AFP  Getty Images

The boys were still far from being rescued at the time the offer was made and as of yesterday afternoon only eight had been freed as the complex mission entered its final stage.

He says they are all in strong condition.

"We're here really looking at this as a movie that could inspire millions of people across the globe", Scott added. The head of the rescue operation said they were the healthiest in the group.

Images of the desperate group went viral, prompting FIFA boss Gianni Infantino to invite them to the July 15 showpiece in a gesture of solidarity from the footballing world and a dream to most teenage football fans. None of the boys was heard speaking in the clips shown at the news conference.

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.

That gutsy determination was on display Wednesday in a video taken from the hospital isolation ward. The boys are expected to be released within seven days barring complications. They were found by a pair of British divers almost 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling but visibly skinny. Some have been able to see the boys through a glass panel, others have been allowed closer, but had to wear protective suits and stand two meters away. Authorities are anxious about the possibility of infections picked up in the cave.

Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, a health department inspector, earlier told reporters one from the last group rescued on Tuesday had a lung infection and they were all given vaccinations for rabies and tetanus.

However, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said precautions would have to be implemented both inside and outside the cave to safeguard tourists, according to media reports. "That's very good sign that they are craving for food".

Doctors, divers and other rescuers were posted along the twisting corridors monitoring the boys as they were passed through using a system of ropes, pulleys and rubber piping.

He continued, "My wife actually grew up with the Thai Navy SEAL that died in the cave".

Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has thanked people involved in the rescue, saying the government's efforts, the assistance of people in Thailand and overseas, and the outpouring of moral support made the mission a success.

The commander of the navy SEAL unit that oversaw the rescue, Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew, hailed the worldwide effort. There were volunteers from Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Ukraine and Finland.

Anderson said divers practised their rescue techniques in a swimming pool with local children about the same height and weight as the members of the Wild Boars football team trapped in the cave.

Thai rescuers were assisted by an global team comprising experts from China, Australia, the U.S. and Britain.

The rescue has dominated front-page headlines in Thailand and beyond for days.

Mission accomplished: Missing 13 are found in the partially flooded cave. Players from France and England welcomed news of the rescue and sent their best wishes to the "Wild Boars" on Twitter.

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