Trapped Thai soccer team expected to leave hospital day early amid news they dug 16-foot tunnel

Trapped Thai soccer team expected to leave hospital

The 12 young soccer players rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand are recovering fast enough that officials said they’ll likely be discharged Wednesday — a day ahead of schedule.

A news conference was planned to coincide with their early hospital release, a government official said, according to Reuters.

The good news came after the Thai army doctor who stayed with them during the rescue mission that gripped the world revealed new details of their harrowing 18-day saga.

In a Facebook post, Dr. Pak Loharnshoon of the Royal Thai Army said the boys and their coach managed to dig a tunnel about 16 feet deep even though they had no food during the nine days they were trapped before two British divers found them.

Loharnshoon said he was “impressed” with the feat and also the kids’ “bright, honest, optimistic (and) positive” attitudes given the “crisis situation.”

He also described how the boys dutifully put their garbage in black plastic bags after every meal, and he praised Ekkapol (Coach Ek) Chanthawong for his efforts protecting the boys after they got stuck in the Tham Luang cave network in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand on June 23.

Monsoon flooding began filling the cave network with water shortly after the boys and their coach entered, cutting off their escape.

Their location was only accessible by divers, and the route was so tricky, former Thai Navy SEAL Samarn Kunan, 38, died while delivering oxygen tanks, the government said.

“The great-hearted coach is truly a martyr,” Loharnshoon said in the Facebook post, according to the social media site’s translation into English.

Some of the rescued soccer team members bowing their heads respectfully in front of a sketch of the Thai Navy SEAL diver who died while trying to rescue them, Sunday, July 15, 2018, in a hospital in Chiang Rai.


Loharnshoon described how the coach shared his own food with the kids to make sure they got enough to each at each meal provided by the rescue workers.

The doctor posted heartwarming photos of the kids hugging him at the Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Chiang Rai.

Some of the boys had pneumonia when they were ushered out of the cave system.

Rescue officials who spoke to ABC TV in Australia’s “Four Corners” said they went into the mission fully expecting casualties.

They said the temperature in the cave was about 73 degrees, but the environment was damp still led to exposure issues that left the kids fragile.

“I was fully expecting that we would accept casualties,” U.S. Air Force Maj. Charles Hodges told “Four Corners.”

One rescue diver described the difficulty of leading the boys through the most treacherous sections of the escape route.

“You could spend several minutes at one obstacle, trying to find your way through,” British diver Jason Mallinson told the program. “I wasn’t 100% confident of getting (each kid) out alive. If we bashed him against a rock too hard, and it dislodged that mask, and flooded his mask, he was a goner.”

Australian cave diver Craig Challen choked up as he described the success of getting each child — and the coach — to safety.

“Words cannot describe how happy we were,” he said. “Honestly, it was not a result that we thought we would get. We thought there was a very real prospect that we would be doing body recoveries. …I’m still pinching myself a little bit.”

Source: nydailynews

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