The Tham Luang cave has delivered its miracle, with all 13 members of the Wild Boar soccer team making it to safety in one of the most inspiring rescue missions the world has witnessed.
According to multiple reports from insiders, all members of the team have successfully swum through flooded passages and are now out of the cave system.
It is understood Australian anaesthetist Richard Harris administered a mild sedative to all of the boys prior to departing the ledge where they have been trapped, in order to eliminate any fear during the swim.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed that the boys had been given medicine “so the children won’t panic, just like we take anti-allergy so we feel OK and are not excited”.
It is believed the boys wore wetsuits and full-face masks, meaning they did not need to make any effort breathing as they were swum through flooded chambers.
Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn earlier said that 19 divers were in the cave, ahead of schedule, preparing for the final extraction in what has been a mission of remarkable precision and international teamwork.
Narongsak, whose daily updates have transformed him from a provincial northern Thailand governor into an international presence as people hang on his every word, said he had relied on the judgment of the diving team that they could bring out the five, rather than the four he had predicted.
“We hope that today we can bring the four, plus one,” he said earlier.
Two of the eight who came out in sets of four on Sunday and Monday were diagnosed with mild pneumonia at Chiang Rai hospital, 60km south of the Tham Luang cave system. He said they had been treated with intravenous drips and were responding well.
“We expected them all to have pneumonia, and came up with preventive measures, but most of them haven’t got pneumonia,” he said.
The governor said the last day of the operation was moving even faster than the previous two days, with evacuation times sharply as the core diving team became better familiarised with negotiating the dangerous route.
It appears they have left the strongest team members till last, including coach Ekkapon Chantawongse.
What days ago was a five-hour journey in blackness, through flooded chambers and a risky choke-point tunnel, has been cut down to only three hours.
It is understood that the boys were rested and given initial medical attention for several hours at Chamber 3, where the rescuers set up their underground staging camp, before being assisted out of the cave.
Narongsak said that although there had been heavy overnight rain, water levels were holding stable, meaning they were able to speed up the operation of positioning oxygen tanks along the route and re-tensioning the safety line.
“The team completed their set-up for the mission faster than expected and it got underway at 10am,” he said.
Narongsak added that along with the boys and the coach, a doctor and three Thai SEALs who are understood to have been close at the team’s side for days would be coming out.
He was presumably referring to Richard Harris, who has been with the team on the ledge monitoring their fitness to dive.
The eight earlier rescued boys have been treated for passing fevers, coughing, light wounds and general weakness, with medical experts satisfied the boys have made it through their ordeal largely unscathed.
Families have been able to speak to the quarantined boys behind a glass partition at Chiang Rai hospital, where they will remain for up to seven days until they are given the complete all-clear.
“Because the kids are still young, they are very resilient. They can talk normally, everybody is joyful and very glad to come out,” said Dr Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk from the Public Health Ministry.
The expert said the boys had suffered from exposure to water and cold over their long stay underground, but were in surprisingly good condition.
“They’re hungry a lot and want to eat a variety of food, but at this stage, we’re giving food that is easily digested and bland. They can sit up and eat, but there are no worrying conditions.
“They asked for bread with chocolate, which we think is OK.”
The boys have told the rescuers that there were no animals such as bats in the cave so the medical experts feel certain there is no biological cross-contamination.
“We have to wait for microbiological results from the lab,” said Dr Jedsada. “They’re immune systems are weakened so it’s best they stay in hospital.”
The doctor said the boys will be able to watch the World Cup in quarantine – but as to news about their rescue, the psychologists don’t want them to watch any coverage until the team was fully reunited in hospital. – Daily Telegraph