Thai cave rescue nearly ended in tragedy with 20 rescuers still inside

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None in the third group - four boys and their 25-year-old coach - suffered hypothermia, according to Thongchai. The photos also showed parents of the boys looking at their children through a glass window.

Narongsak said global rescuers led the final phase of the risky mission.

Rescue personnel work at the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Their discovery immediately prompted discussions on how to get them out, with initial reports suggesting that the safest way to rescue the team was to wait out the rainy season, which lasts until October, and guide them out once the flooded tunnels had dried.

"Some of them were asleep, and some of them were wiggling their fingers, kind of groggy, but they were breathing".

"My job was to transfer them along", he said, adding the "boys were wrapped up in stretchers already when they were being transferred" and were monitored at regular intervals by doctors posted along the kilometres-long escape route.

Harris' colleagues and fellow rescuers lauded his commitment to the mission and how vital his expertise was in bringing the boys out to safety.

Junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday said the boys had been given a "minor tranquilliser" to prevent anxiety during the complex extraction bid.

But he denied they were knocked out for the miraculous rescue.

A former member of Thailand's navy SEAL unit died during a mission in the cave on Friday.

But it has also emerged that the operation nearly ended in disaster when the water pumps failed in the final stage.

"Suddenly the Australian guy who was overseeing that area started shouting that the water pump had stopped working", Chaiyananta told AFP.

They survived on snacks they brought with them and by drinking water running down cave walls, authorities said. "This mission was successful because of cooperation from everyone", he said.

The 12 boys were trapped for a total of 17 days and all lost an average of two kilograms.

The four boys rescued Sunday have normal heart rates and no fever, and the two of them with lung infections are improving, said Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry.

The world held its breath over the three days it took to retrieve the Wild Boars.

Some of the boys rescued from a Thai cave seen in hospital in Chiang Rai. Last night a 14-year-old member of the trapped football team was also hailed as a hero.

"To see all that heroic bravery in the cave, and to get all the divers out, it's just such a touching event and so personal to me", he said in a video on Twitter. filmed at the rescue site.