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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Thai cave boys describe two-week ordeal after release from hospital

The football team and coach were released from hospital on Wednesday

Twelve rescued members of the Wild Boar soccer team and their assistant coach sit with Thai health officers and soldiers to make their first public appearance during a military governmental TV program at Chiang Rai Provincial Administrative Organization. EPA
Twelve rescued members of the Wild Boar soccer team and their assistant coach sit with Thai health officers and soldiers to make their first public appearance during a military governmental TV program at Chiang Rai Provincial Administrative Organization. EPA
  • The 'Wild Boars' football team hold their first press conference
  • The boys were released from Chiang Rai Hospital on Wednesday, July 18
  • Journalists asked a series of pre-approved questions to the rescued boys

Read more: How an international coalition pulled off 'mission impossible' | Scenes of jubilation after final boys rescued from Thai cave | Thai boys rescued from cave mourn hero diver

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16:30 Press conference ends

The press conference with the twelve "Wild Boars", their coach and the rescue teams has finished.

The conference ended with a round of applause, and the boys giving a bow of thanks to their king.

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16:25 Undocumented boys have submitted citizenship applications

Four of the boys, who were not Thai citizens, have submitted citizenship applications, officials confirmed in the press conference.

Some of the boys were from neighbouring Myanmar, and not citizens of Thailand.

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16:20 'We're sorry we were naughty'

The 'Wild Boars' team have apologised to their parents for not telling them that they were going for the cave.

Some of the boys said they did not tell their parents they were going to the cave, instead only telling them that they were going to football practice.

"I want to say sorry as well, and I want to tell them I love them, and I see now if I don't tell them the truth it will bring disappointment to us," one boy said.

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16:15 Coach and Navy Seals decided who came out first

The coach explained how he sent out the boys whose homes were the furthest away came out first.

It was not dependent on who is the strongest or weakest, as previous reports had said.

The rescue team explained how all of the boys were equally strong and ready to leave the cave so they deferred the decision to the coach.

The coach said how the boys did not mind who went first because they were attached to the Navy Seals.

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16:05 Boys express their ambition to be professional football players and Navy Seals

The boys' ambition to become professional footballers have not been dampened by their experience in the flooded cave, they told international media.

"This experience has taught me to be stronger and not give up," one of the boys said.

Another boy said, "after this experience, there might be a new dream, I want to be a navy Seal."

Four other boys also said they would like to be professional footballers, and many expressed their desire to get a good education and make their parents proud.

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16:00 Thai cave boys express their sadness for Thai Seal who died in rescue operation

Members of the "Wild Boars" cave real expressed their condolences to the family of the Thai Navy Seal who gave his life to rescue the team.

"We feel very sad...when we found out someone had sacrificed his life for us we felt very sad. We are the cause for his loss," one of the boys said.

The boys read tributes from a picture of the Thai Seal.

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15:55 Thai navy Seals explain how they looked after the boys

The Thai navy Seals told a press conference how they kept moral and energy levels up for the group.

A member of the elite diving squad explained how he carried energy gels and asked the boys "are you still fighting?"

The coach said, "I feel like we are the same family...we ate together. We slept together." One of the boys said, "I feel like he [coach] is my father because he called me son," prompting a round of applause.

One of the navy Seals explained how he had to stay in his underwear, covered only by a foil wrap. Instead of additional clothes, the Seal had energy gels and medical supplies in his bag.

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15:50 Group tried to dig walls of the cave to escape

The coach of the 'Wild Boars' described how the group survived while trapped in the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand.

The coach said the group took turns trying to dig out of the cave. The 'Wild Boars' also drank water until they felt full.

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15:40 Coach explains how they became lost in Tham Luang cave

The 'Wild Boars' football coach explained how they decided to go to the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand.

He said the boys asked to go to the caves because many of the boys had never been before.

The coach said he first realised they were lost when they tried to leave. When they turned to leave they realised the water levels had risen, and some of the boys could not swim.

The coach entered the water to see if he could find a route out of the cave. He tied a rope to himself and said if he tugs twice the boys should pull him out.

When he realised there was no way out he tugged on the rope, and the group decided to find a place to stay the night hoping the water levels will fall.

"I wasn't scared because I thought tomorrow the water level would fall," the coach said.

The group said they had no food and no snacks, as they had already eaten before training. They stayed alive by drinking water falling from the ceiling.

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15:20 'Wild Boars' speak to international media

The 'Wild Boars' football team have spoken to the international media for the first time, entering to applause from a crowd.

The coach and each player stood up and introduced themselves to the media, before going on to thank the international rescue efforts.

The youngest child of the group, aged 11, introduced himself to the media, adding "I play left and right wing".

Three Thai Navy Seals, who were dressed in blue uniforms, baseball caps, and sunglasses, also introduced themselves by giving only nicknames.

One of the boys, who spoke to the first two divers who discovered them, told the media how he responded to seeing the light from his rescuers.

"I did not know what to say, so all I knew what to say was hello to eachother...it was very magical, I was very surprised, I was very shocked...he asked me how I was and I said I was fine."

The football team also explained how they watched the World Cup finals and made a lot of noise in the hospital.

Eleven of the boys were supporting France in the finals, while only two people supported Croatia.

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15:00 Boys ready to go home

In a press conference with international media, medical and phycological experts have confirmed the boys are ready to go home.

Doctors said the boys are physically and mentally strong. Experts said the boys have coping mechanisms for handling the outside world.

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14:00 Boys discharged from hospital ahead of press conference

Members of the Thai football team who were trapped in a cave leave hospital in Chiang Rai. EPA
Members of the Thai football team who were trapped in a cave leave hospital in Chiang Rai. EPA

The 12 boys and their coach have been discharged from Chiang Rai Hospital ahead of their press conference at 15:00.

The 'Wild Boars' team and their coach have spent over a week in hospital where they were monitored for infections. The group were held in quarantine before being cleared of infections after test results came back from Bangkok.

They were released a day earlier than expected.

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'Wild Boars' to appear in front of media to thank rescuers

The 12 boys rescued from the flooded cave in Thailand last week will appear in front of Thai media to thank their rescuers and answer questions from the press.

Immediately after the press conference, the boys are due to return home where they will rest for 30 days.

The Thai government has allowed 45 minutes of airtime on its "Thailand Moves Forward" program for the football team's conference.

The show will be recorded at Chiang Rai's provincial hall and will be broadcast live across dozens of channels.

"The reason to hold this evening press conference is so media can ask them questions and after that they can go back to live their normal lives without media bothering them," Thailand's chief government spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told AFP.

Thai television presenters joked that the boys will increase the ratings of an otherwise dull television show.

"This is the story all Thais want to hear. Don't switch it off, don't put it on mute," joked a presenter VOICE TV, a television station that is often critical of the military government.

"It should help the Thailand Moves Forward show's ratings shoot through the roof," he added.

The Thai government has asked the international media to respect the boys' privacy after they are discharged.

"The media know that the children are in a difficult situation, they have overcome peril and if you ask risky questions then it could break the law," Tawatchai Thaikaew, deputy permanent secretary at the Justice Ministry, told reporters on Wednesday.

"We don't know what wounds the kids are carrying in the hearts," he added.

The operation to rescue the 'Wild Boars' football team from the Tham Luang cave was shrouded in secrecy. International media were kept at an arm's length from the boys during the operation, and even families of rescued children were not informed that they were out of the cave until days after the rescue.

Images of the boys or exact details of the operation were not clear until after the mission had been completed.

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Latest news

In a video from Chiang Rai hospital, the boys rescued from the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand mourned the death of Saman Kunan. Saman was a Thai navy Seal who died during the operation to rescue the boys on July 6.

Mourners attend the funeral of former Thai navy diver, Samarn Kunan, who died during the rescue mission for 'Wild Boars' football team and their coach. Reuters
Mourners attend the funeral of former Thai navy diver, Samarn Kunan, who died during the rescue mission. Reuters

Elon Musk has apologised to a British diver who helped rescue the 12 boys and their coach.

Mr Musk baselessly called the diver "a pedo" on Twitter after he questioned the usefulness of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur's attempts to build an escape pod for the boys.

Vern Unsworth, the diver who criticised Mr Musk, said he was considering suing the entrepreneur for defamation.