Trapped Thai boys lost weight during cave ordeal but are 'generally in good health'

An ambulance leaves the Thai cave complex as a fifth boy is rescued. Credit: AP
  • Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

Twelve boys rescued from the flooded Thai cave complex are in good health despite their ordeal, according to health officials.

The group managed to keep themselves relatively well nourished over the 18 days they were trapped because they had water with them.

People have been celebrating in Thailand and beyond since the last of the young footballers and their rescuers made it safely out of the caves on Tuesday.

Their experience in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave claimed the life of a veteran volunteer diver and captured the attention of people around the world.

Thailand's navy Seals, who were central to the rescue effort, confirmed on Facebook the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely on Tuesday.

"We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave," the Seals said, referring to the name of the boys' football team. "Everyone is safe."

Despite all they went through, the group were able to "take good care of themselves" while trapped, a health official said.

Each of the boys lost about 2kg in weight, while a handful of the group are currently being treated for lung infections.

While each of the 12 youngsters remain in hospital, they are all generally in good health.

A medic and three Seals who had stayed with the boys in their dark refuge deep inside the cave complex have also come out of the cave. Credit: Thai government handout

Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of 18 Thai and international divers - including seven Brits - on Sunday and Monday.

A medic and three Seals who had stayed with the last of the boys in their dark refuge deep inside the cave complex also come out of the cave on Tuesday.

ITV News Correspondent Debi Edward, at the scene, said the operation moved faster than expected.

A team of 90 divers and cave experts had spent three days bringing the group out along the flooded 2km route.

Among the global messages of support and celebration came a tribute from England defender Kyle Walker after one of the trapped boys had been seen in an England football shirt.

He tweeted expressing his relief at the news and offered to send England shirts to the kids as a token of support.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, delivering an address to the nation, thanked both Thai and foreign rescuers for their "tremendous sacrifice and effort".

He also praised the "moral support from around the world" which helped "make the mission a success".

  • Why are the boys now being quarantined?

The joy at the scene. Credit: AP

The boys have not been able to be reunited with their families yet as tests are ongoing to check that they are clear of infections.

The group was malnourished and weak, and doctors are probably worried that they could be susceptible to germs spread by family members or other visitors

It is also possible they are infection risks to others. Thai doctors have said they do not know what type of unusual illnesses the boys may have picked up in the cave.

  • What lies ahead for the boys?

The boys had been trapped for more than a week before rescuers reached them. Credit: Thai navy seals

Experts say the most likely problems will stem from "the stress associated with this harrowing experience".

One of the Thai doctors said the boys were happy but that psychologists would be evaluating them.

The guided escape was stressful, and the Thai Prime Minister said the boys were given an anti-anxiety medication to help calm their nerves.

It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, meaning the junior football team will miss the offer from Fifa of attending the World Cup Final in Russia.

  • The daunting task that divers faced to free the group

The group got stuck inside the cave system on June 23 after flood waters from heavy rain trapped them inside.

Rescuers began bringing them out on Sunday after becoming concerned that deteriorating weather could put them further at risk.

The dangers involved in the rescue were made all too clear when former Thai navy Seal Saman Kunan passed out diving in the caves on Friday and died.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach, 25, were trapped inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

Players and their coach from this Thai team ended up trapped. Credit: Facebook

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape forcing them to seek refuge on a rocky shelf inside a cave chamber.

Rescuers pumped millions of litres of water out of the cave network to try to extract the group through nearly a mile of tunnels.

How the boys were rescued. Credit: PA

The journey into and out of the underground complex had taken between five and six hours, even for the most experienced divers.

For two and a half hours of this, the group were completely submerged underwater - a challenging feat as none of the boys who have been trapped in the cave was able to swim.

The British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC) confirmed seven divers from the UK with "expertise in cave diving" had assisted.

Two elite British divers, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, were the first rescuers to reach the group on Monday night and are believed to be part of the team.