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Chiang Rai, Thailand (CNN)Family members of several of the young Thai soccer players and their coach, freed after almost three weeks trapped deep in a cave in northern Thailand, are still waiting to be reunited with them.

The boys and their coach are recovering in hospital, where medical staff gave more details of their condition Wednesday, a day after they were rescued from a cave by dozens of divers who braved hazardous elements to bring them out.

Health Ministry Inspector, Dr. Tongchai Lertvirairatanapong said the boys were in "good condition," despite each losing an average of two kilograms (4.4 pounds) in weight during their time in the cave.

He attributed their relative good health to their coach, 25-year-old Ekkapol Ake Chantawong, a former monk who was the last person out. "I have to praise the coach who took care of the footballers very well," Lertvirairatanapong said.

Divers were able to bring food, blankets and other supplies to the boys while experts determined the best way to get them out safely. The team was found around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters to one kilometer below the surface, according to a British Cave Rescue Council briefing note.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Divers were able to bring food, blankets and other supplies to the boys while experts determined the best way to get them out safely. The team was found around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters to one kilometer below the surface, according to a British Cave Rescue Council briefing note.

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The team was found alive by British divers. The search brought rescue teams from all over the world.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

The team was found alive by British divers. The search brought rescue teams from all over the world.

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A Thai military medic provides first aid to one of the boys.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

A Thai military medic provides first aid to one of the boys.

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The body of Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, is carried during a repatriation and religious rites ceremony on Friday, July 6. Kunan died Friday as he returned from an operation to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave. He ran out of air while underwater, an official said.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

The body of Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, is carried during a repatriation and religious rites ceremony on Friday, July 6. Kunan died Friday as he returned from an operation to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave. He ran out of air while underwater, an official said.

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Thai police take a break for breakfast as rescue operations continue on Wednesday, July 4.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai police take a break for breakfast as rescue operations continue on Wednesday, July 4.

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Water is pumped out of the cave on July 3.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Water is pumped out of the cave on July 3.

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Workers fix the road leading to the cave on July 3.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Workers fix the road leading to the cave on July 3.

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Divers prepare a light to be used for the underwater search on July 2.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Divers prepare a light to be used for the underwater search on July 2.

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Rescue workers wait at the entrance to the cave on July 2.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue workers wait at the entrance to the cave on July 2.

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Some of the team's family members celebrate after receiving news that the team was alive.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Some of the team's family members celebrate after receiving news that the team was alive.

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Technicians lift water pumps to the drilling site on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Technicians lift water pumps to the drilling site on July 1.

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Soldiers and rescuers work outside the cave complex on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Soldiers and rescuers work outside the cave complex on July 1.

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Monks attend a Buddhist prayer for the team on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Monks attend a Buddhist prayer for the team on July 1.

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Scuba tanks are delivered to the search site on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Scuba tanks are delivered to the search site on July 1.

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Rescue workers carry water-pumping equipment into the cave on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue workers carry water-pumping equipment into the cave on July 1.

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A Thai Air Force worker drops near a possible cave opening on June 30.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

A Thai Air Force worker drops near a possible cave opening on June 30.

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British cave diver Robert Charles Harper explores an opening on June 29.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

British cave diver Robert Charles Harper explores an opening on June 29.

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Relatives of the trapped team members pray on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Relatives of the trapped team members pray on June 27.

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Family members waited more than a week for news of their loved ones.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Family members waited more than a week for news of their loved ones.

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Thai soldiers bring hoses and additional water pumps as the search for the team continued on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai soldiers bring hoses and additional water pumps as the search for the team continued on June 27.

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Volunteer paramedics wait near the cave entrance on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Volunteer paramedics wait near the cave entrance on June 27.

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A rescuer looks for a cave entrance on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

A rescuer looks for a cave entrance on June 27.

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Rescuers search the cave on June 26.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescuers search the cave on June 26.

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Thai soldiers relay cable at the search site on June 26.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai soldiers relay cable at the search site on June 26.

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The boys in the cave receive medical attention in this image that was taken from video last week. All of them have since been rescued.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

The boys in the cave receive medical attention in this image that was taken from video last week. All of them have since been rescued.

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Thai Navy SEALs pose for a photo after the rescue effort was finished on Tuesday, July 10. One of them was a doctor who stayed with the team for a week after it was found alive on July 2.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai Navy SEALs pose for a photo after the rescue effort was finished on Tuesday, July 10. One of them was a doctor who stayed with the team for a week after it was found alive on July 2.

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People watch and cheer as a helicopter flies toward an airstrip to transport one of the rescued boys to a hospital on Monday, July 9. Four boys were rescued on Sunday, another four were rescued on Monday, and the rest were rescued on Tuesday.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

People watch and cheer as a helicopter flies toward an airstrip to transport one of the rescued boys to a hospital on Monday, July 9. Four boys were rescued on Sunday, another four were rescued on Monday, and the rest were rescued on Tuesday.

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Rescue workers leave after all members of the team had been saved.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue workers leave after all members of the team had been saved.

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This photo tweeted by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk shows rescue efforts during the three-day mission. Musk tweeted early July 10 that he had visited the cave and left a mini-submarine there for future use.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

This photo tweeted by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk shows rescue efforts during the three-day mission. Musk tweeted early July 10 that he had visited the cave and left a mini-submarine there for future use.

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Members of the Royal Thai Navy are pictured with the team inside the cave.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Members of the Royal Thai Navy are pictured with the team inside the cave.

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An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys heads to the hospital on July 10.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys heads to the hospital on July 10.

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Rescuers walk toward the entrance of the cave as rescue operations resumed on July 10.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescuers walk toward the entrance of the cave as rescue operations resumed on July 10.

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Hospital staff and a police officer are seen during a news conference that was held on July 10. The eight boys that had been rescued on July 8 and 9 were being treated in an isolation ward in a Chiang Rai hospital. They are all likely to stay in the hospital for a week due to their weakened immune systems.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Hospital staff and a police officer are seen during a news conference that was held on July 10. The eight boys that had been rescued on July 8 and 9 were being treated in an isolation ward in a Chiang Rai hospital. They are all likely to stay in the hospital for a week due to their weakened immune systems.

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Thai police and military officers use umbrellas to shield a rescued boy before he was transported to a hospital on July 9.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai police and military officers use umbrellas to shield a rescued boy before he was transported to a hospital on July 9.

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An ambulance exits the cave area on July 9.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

An ambulance exits the cave area on July 9.

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Emergency responders surround a helicopter on Sunday, July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Emergency responders surround a helicopter on Sunday, July 8.

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Rescue teams arrange a water-pumping system at the cave's entrance on Saturday, July 7.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue teams arrange a water-pumping system at the cave's entrance on Saturday, July 7.

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Ambulances wait outside a hospital where the rescued boys were treated.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Ambulances wait outside a hospital where the rescued boys were treated.

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Thai military personnel walk into a cave during rescue operations.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai military personnel walk into a cave during rescue operations.

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Military personnel work inside a cave.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Military personnel work inside a cave.

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An ambulance leaves the scene of the rescue effort on July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

An ambulance leaves the scene of the rescue effort on July 8.

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This undated photo, released via the Thailand Navy SEAL Facebook page, shows rescuers with their hands locked. The caption said, "We Thai and the international teams join forces to bring the young Wild Boars home." The Wild Boars is the name of the soccer team the boys play on.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

This undated photo, released via the Thailand Navy SEAL Facebook page, shows rescuers with their hands locked. The caption said, "We Thai and the international teams join forces to bring the young Wild Boars home." The Wild Boars is the name of the soccer team the boys play on.

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Family members pray in front of a Buddhist statue near the cave on July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Family members pray in front of a Buddhist statue near the cave on July 8.

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Emergency workers carry oxygen tanks as rescue operations begin.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Emergency workers carry oxygen tanks as rescue operations begin.

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Thai soldiers work to connect pipes that help water from entering a cave.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai soldiers work to connect pipes that help water from entering a cave.

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Thai forest rangers examine a map as they review their rescue options on July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai forest rangers examine a map as they review their rescue options on July 8.

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This image, taken from video on July 2, shows the team trapped inside the cave. That was the day divers found them alive.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

This image, taken from video on July 2, shows the team trapped inside the cave. That was the day divers found them alive.

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Divers were able to bring food, blankets and other supplies to the boys while experts determined the best way to get them out safely. The team was found around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters to one kilometer below the surface, according to a British Cave Rescue Council briefing note.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Divers were able to bring food, blankets and other supplies to the boys while experts determined the best way to get them out safely. The team was found around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters to one kilometer below the surface, according to a British Cave Rescue Council briefing note.

Hide Caption

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The team was found alive by British divers. The search brought rescue teams from all over the world.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

The team was found alive by British divers. The search brought rescue teams from all over the world.

Hide Caption

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A Thai military medic provides first aid to one of the boys.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

A Thai military medic provides first aid to one of the boys.

Hide Caption

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The body of Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, is carried during a repatriation and religious rites ceremony on Friday, July 6. Kunan died Friday as he returned from an operation to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave. He ran out of air while underwater, an official said.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

The body of Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, is carried during a repatriation and religious rites ceremony on Friday, July 6. Kunan died Friday as he returned from an operation to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave. He ran out of air while underwater, an official said.

Hide Caption

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Thai police take a break for breakfast as rescue operations continue on Wednesday, July 4.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai police take a break for breakfast as rescue operations continue on Wednesday, July 4.

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Water is pumped out of the cave on July 3.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Water is pumped out of the cave on July 3.

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Workers fix the road leading to the cave on July 3.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Workers fix the road leading to the cave on July 3.

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Divers prepare a light to be used for the underwater search on July 2.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Divers prepare a light to be used for the underwater search on July 2.

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Rescue workers wait at the entrance to the cave on July 2.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue workers wait at the entrance to the cave on July 2.

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Some of the team's family members celebrate after receiving news that the team was alive.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Some of the team's family members celebrate after receiving news that the team was alive.

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Technicians lift water pumps to the drilling site on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Technicians lift water pumps to the drilling site on July 1.

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Soldiers and rescuers work outside the cave complex on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Soldiers and rescuers work outside the cave complex on July 1.

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Monks attend a Buddhist prayer for the team on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Monks attend a Buddhist prayer for the team on July 1.

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Scuba tanks are delivered to the search site on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Scuba tanks are delivered to the search site on July 1.

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Rescue workers carry water-pumping equipment into the cave on July 1.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue workers carry water-pumping equipment into the cave on July 1.

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A Thai Air Force worker drops near a possible cave opening on June 30.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

A Thai Air Force worker drops near a possible cave opening on June 30.

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British cave diver Robert Charles Harper explores an opening on June 29.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

British cave diver Robert Charles Harper explores an opening on June 29.

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Relatives of the trapped team members pray on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Relatives of the trapped team members pray on June 27.

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Family members waited more than a week for news of their loved ones.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Family members waited more than a week for news of their loved ones.

Hide Caption

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Thai soldiers bring hoses and additional water pumps as the search for the team continued on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai soldiers bring hoses and additional water pumps as the search for the team continued on June 27.

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Volunteer paramedics wait near the cave entrance on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Volunteer paramedics wait near the cave entrance on June 27.

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A rescuer looks for a cave entrance on June 27.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

A rescuer looks for a cave entrance on June 27.

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Rescuers search the cave on June 26.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescuers search the cave on June 26.

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Thai soldiers relay cable at the search site on June 26.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai soldiers relay cable at the search site on June 26.

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The boys in the cave receive medical attention in this image that was taken from video last week. All of them have since been rescued.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

The boys in the cave receive medical attention in this image that was taken from video last week. All of them have since been rescued.

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Thai Navy SEALs pose for a photo after the rescue effort was finished on Tuesday, July 10. One of them was a doctor who stayed with the team for a week after it was found alive on July 2.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai Navy SEALs pose for a photo after the rescue effort was finished on Tuesday, July 10. One of them was a doctor who stayed with the team for a week after it was found alive on July 2.

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People watch and cheer as a helicopter flies toward an airstrip to transport one of the rescued boys to a hospital on Monday, July 9. Four boys were rescued on Sunday, another four were rescued on Monday, and the rest were rescued on Tuesday.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

People watch and cheer as a helicopter flies toward an airstrip to transport one of the rescued boys to a hospital on Monday, July 9. Four boys were rescued on Sunday, another four were rescued on Monday, and the rest were rescued on Tuesday.

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Rescue workers leave after all members of the team had been saved.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue workers leave after all members of the team had been saved.

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This photo tweeted by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk shows rescue efforts during the three-day mission. Musk tweeted early July 10 that he had visited the cave and left a mini-submarine there for future use.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

This photo tweeted by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk shows rescue efforts during the three-day mission. Musk tweeted early July 10 that he had visited the cave and left a mini-submarine there for future use.

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Members of the Royal Thai Navy are pictured with the team inside the cave.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Members of the Royal Thai Navy are pictured with the team inside the cave.

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An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys heads to the hospital on July 10.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys heads to the hospital on July 10.

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Rescuers walk toward the entrance of the cave as rescue operations resumed on July 10.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescuers walk toward the entrance of the cave as rescue operations resumed on July 10.

Hide Caption

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Hospital staff and a police officer are seen during a news conference that was held on July 10. The eight boys that had been rescued on July 8 and 9 were being treated in an isolation ward in a Chiang Rai hospital. They are all likely to stay in the hospital for a week due to their weakened immune systems.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Hospital staff and a police officer are seen during a news conference that was held on July 10. The eight boys that had been rescued on July 8 and 9 were being treated in an isolation ward in a Chiang Rai hospital. They are all likely to stay in the hospital for a week due to their weakened immune systems.

Hide Caption

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Thai police and military officers use umbrellas to shield a rescued boy before he was transported to a hospital on July 9.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai police and military officers use umbrellas to shield a rescued boy before he was transported to a hospital on July 9.

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An ambulance exits the cave area on July 9.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

An ambulance exits the cave area on July 9.

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Emergency responders surround a helicopter on Sunday, July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Emergency responders surround a helicopter on Sunday, July 8.

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Rescue teams arrange a water-pumping system at the cave's entrance on Saturday, July 7.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Rescue teams arrange a water-pumping system at the cave's entrance on Saturday, July 7.

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Ambulances wait outside a hospital where the rescued boys were treated.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Ambulances wait outside a hospital where the rescued boys were treated.

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Thai military personnel walk into a cave during rescue operations.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai military personnel walk into a cave during rescue operations.

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Military personnel work inside a cave.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Military personnel work inside a cave.

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An ambulance leaves the scene of the rescue effort on July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

An ambulance leaves the scene of the rescue effort on July 8.

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This undated photo, released via the Thailand Navy SEAL Facebook page, shows rescuers with their hands locked. The caption said, "We Thai and the international teams join forces to bring the young Wild Boars home." The Wild Boars is the name of the soccer team the boys play on.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

This undated photo, released via the Thailand Navy SEAL Facebook page, shows rescuers with their hands locked. The caption said, "We Thai and the international teams join forces to bring the young Wild Boars home." The Wild Boars is the name of the soccer team the boys play on.

Hide Caption

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Family members pray in front of a Buddhist statue near the cave on July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Family members pray in front of a Buddhist statue near the cave on July 8.

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Emergency workers carry oxygen tanks as rescue operations begin.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Emergency workers carry oxygen tanks as rescue operations begin.

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Thai soldiers work to connect pipes that help water from entering a cave.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai soldiers work to connect pipes that help water from entering a cave.

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Thai forest rangers examine a map as they review their rescue options on July 8.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Thai forest rangers examine a map as they review their rescue options on July 8.

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This image, taken from video on July 2, shows the team trapped inside the cave. That was the day divers found them alive.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

This image, taken from video on July 2, shows the team trapped inside the cave. That was the day divers found them alive.

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Divers were able to bring food, blankets and other supplies to the boys while experts determined the best way to get them out safely. The team was found around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters to one kilometer below the surface, according to a British Cave Rescue Council briefing note.

Photos: Thai soccer team saved from flooded cave

Divers were able to bring food, blankets and other supplies to the boys while experts determined the best way to get them out safely. The team was found around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters to one kilometer below the surface, according to a British Cave Rescue Council briefing note.

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He said the children hadn't eaten any food in the nine days before they were found, and drank murky water from inside the cave, which saved them. On Tuesday authorities said some of the boys had asked to eat bread with chocolate spread, but mostly they'll be given a food similar to milk which is rich in proteins and nutrients.

The first boys rescued on Sunday have been allowed to see their relatives through a glass partition and speak to them on a telephone line. They will soon be able to meet them them in person, but only while wearing protective clothing to reduce the risk of infection.

The second group of boys rescued has been given approval to see their parents through glass, but the third group are still undergoing tests, he said. The boys are expected to be kept in hospital for at least a week while their immune systems recover.

12 boys and their coach all out of Thai cave

 

 

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12 boys and their coach all out of Thai cave 01:33

The extraordinary operation to save the boys came to an end on Tuesday, when the Thai Navy SEAL rescuers and a doctor followed the last four boys and their coach out of the cave complex.

On Wednesday, they too were recovering, nursing battered hands and feet from wading through the cold water in the cave to reach the boys.

"Some have had muscle infections, cold, flu, and some psychologists have been taking care of them to relieve stress," Health Ministry Inspector Lertvirairatanapong said.

Even for some of the world's most experienced cave divers, it set a new standard for difficult rescues.

"The complexity, scale and risk of the operation was unprecedented," Glen McEwen, Australian Federal Police manager for Asia said at a press conference Wednesday.

Operations winding down

There was a celebratory mood at the cave entrance, hours after the rescue ended.

Police officers took photographs of each other at the massive cave entrance, as pumps continued to suck out huge volumes of water. Wetsuits and scuba gear still hung along at walk at the entrance Wednesday, waiting to be sorted by Thai Navy officials.

#CNN inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave this morning where the soccer team was rescued from. @McKenzieCNN #ThaiCaveRescue pic.twitter.com/JQullZ2w7r

— Sugam Pokharel (@SugamCNN) July 11, 2018

Even though pumps had brought down water levels significantly in recent days, the still-flooded chambers presented a daunting task for the teams.

One of the men most responsible for the success of the rescue is Australian anaesthetist and underwater cave explorer Richard Harris, who was part of the 20-strong Australian rescue contingent.

He was the last man out of the cave Tuesday but emerged to tragedy, learning of his father's death shortly after the rescue had completed.

Described in a South Australia Ambulance Service statement as a "quiet and kind man" who "didn't think twice about offering his support on this mission" Harry, as he is known, was lauded for his work in throughout the rescue period.

"This is clearly a time of grief for the Harris family, magnified by the physical and emotional demands of being part of this week's highly complex and ultimately successful rescue mission."

Agonizing wait ends

As the last boys and their coach were finally brought out, relief and joy flooded through the makeshift village which had sprung up at the mouth of the cave in the two and a half weeks since the boys went missing.

As the last ambulances left the site to transport the remaining rescued team members, a cheer went up, drawing a line under the days and weeks of an agonizing wait for families.

Delighted father of rescued Thai soccer player can't wait to hug his son

Delighted father of rescued Thai soccer player can't wait to hug his son

One father, Adisak Wongsukchan, told CNN that he had remained at the rescue scene with the other parents even after finding out that his 14-year-old son, Akarat had been freed on Monday. "I promised the other parents, the five, I will wait and come out together. I'm not going to leave them. We're going to go together," Wongsukchan said.

Wongsukchan said he could not wait to be reunited with his son. "I want to hug him... and I want to tell him that I'm happy," Wongsukchan said.

At a school opposite the hospital in Chiang Rai where the boys are recovering, schoolchildren were in an excited, celebratory mood.

"Wild Boars, keep fighting!" they chanted.

"Wild Boars, keep fighting!" Children chant in the school opposite the hospital where 12 boys & their football coach are recovering from their ordeal in the #ThamLuangCave @CNN #caverescue #13survived #thamluang#13ชีวิตรอดเเล้ว #ทีมหมูป่า #ทีมหมูป่าอะคาเดมี่ #ThaiNavySEAL pic.twitter.com/GhvPMNZGpr

— Rebecca Wright (@bexwright1) July 11, 2018

During the roughly nine-hour rescue operation, the boys were underwater for four to six hours, according to Jedsada Chokedamrongsook, the permanent secretary of the Thai Health Ministry.

Each boy was accompanied underwater by two divers carrying their oxygen tanks for them, and guiding them though the murky tunnels.

The most dangerous part of the journey out of the labyrinthine cave system was the first kilometer, during which they were required to squeeze through a narrow flooded channel.

Having completed this section, the boys were then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who helped them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they could wade through.

Questions will remain as to why the team, led by their 25-year-old coach, went into the caves during the rainy season -- it is common knowledge that it is a dangerous time to enter, and signs at the entrance specifically warn of the dangers of monsoon rains.

Nopparat Kanthawong, the head coach of the Wild Boars team, told CNN that he did not know why the boys had gone into the cave. "At this time, now that the coach is out, just wait until he gives any statements and let's just wait altogether and find out at the same time," he said in an interview.

Kanthawong said he just wanted to support the team now that the players were out. "I'm going to give them a hug," he said.

News Courtesy: www.cnn.com

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