Thai boys that lived furthest away left caves first

Geraldine Edwards
July 20, 2018

Towards the end of their introduction to the world the Wild Boars were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.

"When he (the diver) emerged from the water I was shocked that he was British", he recalled.

Asked what he had learned from their experience, Boonpiam said he felt stronger. "I tried not to think about food so I didn't get more hungry". The boys, whose ages range from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach answered questions submitted by the media, including about the lessons they learned during their experience.

Had the heavens not opened, the Wild Boars would have been home by mid-afternoon.

The team's 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong.   Linh Pham  Getty Images
The team's 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong. Linh Pham Getty Images

The presenter of the televised news conference said the boys would return home on Wednesday night for the first time since emerging from the cave. "I told everyone to fight on, to have a good spirit, don't give up", he added.

It brought Thai Navy SEALs and worldwide cave diving experts together to pull off the fiendishly hard task of first locating the missing boys and then extracting them through miles of flooded passageways, as a breathless world looked on.

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.

Earlier on June 23, the 12 boys and their coach went to Tham Luang cave in the northern district of Chiang Rai for an expedition.

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As attention turned to how they became trapped, the mood in the room became more sober. "When we found out, everyone was sad".

One of the boys added: "We used stones to dig in the cave".

"We'll do whatever he wants", Konkum said. That represents a depth of 10-13 feet.

Rescued soccer player "Titan" Chanin Vibulrungruang reacts after paying respect to a portrait of Saman Gunan, the Thai Navy SEAL diver who died in the rescue attempt, during a press conference in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 18, 2018. But in turning back, he discovered the way was not at all clear, and he swam ahead to scout the route, attaching a rope to himself so the boys could pull him back if necessary. The group took no food with them into the cave, and they had to subsist on water dripping from stalactites. So, the coach led the boys deeper into the cave to look for a place to rest with hopes that the water level would drop in the morning. "On the first day, we were okay, but after two days we started feeling exhausted".

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Wednesday through the rest of the week will remain dry and warm with highs in the upper 80's to low 90's. The greatest threat for much of the state will be for very heavy rain that could lead to flash flooding.

Many stateless people in Thailand are victims of neighbouring Myanmar's years of ethnic conflict, and the northern Chiang Rai region has long served as an entry point into Thailand for migrants.

Thoughts of their parents also preoccupied the boys, with one admitting, "I was afraid".

"I have to praise the coach who took care of the footballers very well", Lertvirairatanapong said.

In case you weren't already in floods at your desk, the boys also apologised to their parents for causing them trouble and heartache (!), and one of them even said that his main worry while trapped in a flooded cave was not being able to do his homework.

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