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'I heard someone say hello - it was a miracle': Thai football team speak about being trapped in the cave

The media has been urged to be cautious in what questions they ask the boys during the press conference.

Thai team save Source: CBC News

TWELVE BOYS AND their football coach rescued from a cave in Thailand are speaking to the media for the first time at a televised press conference.

One of the boys, Adul Sam-on, 14, explained the moment that they were found. He said they were playing on the rock when he heard noises.

I said ‘Everyone be quiet I heard someone talking’. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream, then we realised it was real and I was shocked… It was a miracle.
I heard someone say hello, anyone there – I just said hello back.

hello One of the boys explained the moment the divers found them. Source: Sky News

When asked why they went into the cave, the coach Ekkapol Chantawong said they were looking to do a team-building exercise.

One of the boys said that when they realised they were trapped he tried to concentrate on getting out; another said that he thought his mother would give out to him.

hungry Source: Sky News

The boys said that they “didn’t think about food” to try and stave off hunger, and drank water so that they felt full.

The press conference were told that some of the boys could swim, but they had little or no supplies and drank rainwater for 9 days. They tried to dig themselves out at one stage, and kept hoping that the next day, the water levels would go down.

The Thai football team also paid tribute to the Navy SEAL diver who died during their rescue attempt, Saman Kunan. One team member said that they would think about their actions and the impact they could have.

Thailand Cave Coach Ekkapol Janthawong speaks on behalf of the 12 boys and himself to a drawing of Saman Kunan, the retired Thai SEAL diver who died while trying to rescue their team. Source: Vincent Thian via PA Images

Thailand Cave Titan - Chanin Vibulrungruang reacts after he pay respects to a drawing of the retired Thai SEAL diver who died. Source: Vincent Thian

The ‘Wild Boars’ football team were discharged from hospital earlier than announced.

The press conference was held at 12 noon Irish time, under strict surveillance from medics, psychologists and the boys’ relatives. Teammates of the 12 boys sat to the righthand side of the stage, while relatives, guardians and parents sat behind them, wearing yellow t-shirts.

The boys arrived in their football kit, waving and posing for the media.

Thai team s The football team are greeted with cheers before going on stage. Source: Sky News

After a briefing from the boys’ medical team, each of the 12 boys stood up to introduce themselves and gave the position that they play on their team.

save One of the boys introduces himself to the media. Source: Sky News

Authorities hope that by holding the question and answer session before they head home it will satisfy the huge interest in their story.

“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.

But with experts warning of possible long-term distress from the ordeal inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand, the briefing will be closely watched.

Thailand Cave The rescued soccer team members pose with a sketch of the Thai Navy SEAL diver who died while trying to rescue them. Source: AP/PA Images

The public relations department in Chiang Rai province solicited questions from news outlets in advance and they will be forwarded to psychiatrists for screening.

Called ‘Sending the Wild Boars Home’, and broadcast on major television channels, the session will last for about 45 minutes, Sunsern said, adding that it would be conducted in an informal style with a moderator.

“They are likely to return home immediately after the press conference,” he said.

Thailand’s junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha urged media to be “cautious in asking unimportant questions” that could cause unspecified damage.

“Today everything is already good, including the perception in foreign countries,” he told reporters in Bangkok. “Nothing is better than this so we should not make it get worse.”

Doctors have advised families of the boys, aged 11 to 16, that they should avoid letting them contact journalists for at least one month after they are discharged.

Though they and their coach are all said to be in good mental and physical health, health officials say that additional psychological monitoring will be provided to detect lingering trauma.

The daring Thai-led international effort to rescue the Wild Boars captivated the world after they walked into the cave on 23 June and were trapped by rising floodwaters.

After nine days without a steady supply of food or water they were found emaciated and huddled in a group on a muddy ledge by British divers several kilometres inside Tham Luang.

Rescuers debated on the best plan to bring them out but ultimately decided on a risky operation that involved diving them through waterlogged passages while they were sedated to keep them calm and carrying them out in military-grade stretchers.

Not even the foreign cave diving specialists who took part were sure the mission would work and many expressed relief when it was all over after the final five were rescued on 10 July.

© – AFP 2018, with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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