Published: Fri, July 20, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Rescued Thai boys visit temple to pray for protection from misfortunes

Rescued Thai boys visit temple to pray for protection from misfortunes

The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand have left a hospital to making their first public appearance at a nationally-broadcast news conference in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

"The ones whose homes are the furthest went first, so they could tell everyone that the boys were fine". And besides, Ekkapol thought, the team often explored the complex after practice and knew its meandering tunnels well. They were trapped more than a mile from the main entrance, and rescue divers had to navigate tight passages to retrieve them.

A sign outside the cave warned against entry during the monsoon.

Tanawat Viboonrungruang, the father of 11-year-old Titun, said he felt relieved to see his son was "still healthy". "It would be wet, it would be cold".

The boys, who are ages 11 to 16, were rescued from a cave in the Tham Luang mountain cave near the border of Myanmar last week.

They were greeted by a banner that read "Bringing the Wild Boars Home" on a stage created to look like a football pitch. The first four boys were taken out of the cave on July 8 in a tandem rescue effort, with one SEAL swimming ahead of the boys and another behind, all the while attached to a tether.

The boys sat alongside members of the Thai Navy Seals who helped rescue them.

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He also confirmed reports that the boys want to ordain as Buddhist monks to honour a former Thai navy seal who died during the rescue mission. Shortly after entering the cave, heavy rains and flooding trapped them underground for more than two weeks.

"I was really afraid that I wouldn't be able to return home", 13-year-old Mongkol Boonpiem, recalled.

"We drank water that fell from the rocks", said Pornchai Khamluan, 16. "It was clean and tasted like any drinking water".

He said the excursion was not to celebrate anyone's birthday, and they had meant to leave after spending an hour inside. "I can finally sleep well last night", he said. "I would only join them from in front of the cave as a guide to other people".

The rising floodwaters kept pushing the group deeper into the cave.

One of the boys added, "We used stones to dig in the cave. We dug 3 to 4 metres".

But they soon found their efforts were to no avail.

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The boys looked like they were enjoying the moment - they had just come from the hospital where they had been recuperating for more than a week. Then on the tenth day, trapped in the labyrinth maze, they heard someone speaking in English.

They were found almost two weeks after disappearing, having survived by drinking the water dripping off the caves roof that is naturally filtered.

Dressed in green, white and black uniforms emblazoned with a red wild boar - the nickname of their team - the boys briefly showed off their ball-handling skills before answering questions that were reviewed in advance.

The Thai soccer team who were trapped inside a cave chose to allow the boys that live furthest away to be rescued first.

"When the rescuer emerged I said 'Hello, '" Dul said, realizing that the rescuer wasn't Thai but British. "If someone invites me, I would say no", Chanthawong said.

One of the Thai boys who spent two weeks trapped in a cave has told how he was anxious his mum would be angry that he hadn't got home.

"Many people are coming".

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