BANGKOK July 11 (TNS): The 12 boys rescued from a Thai cave were sedated and passed on stretchers along the twisting, narrow passageways of the Tham Luang complex, a rescuer said Wednesday as the first footage emerged of an astonishing mission that has captivated the world. The video of the rescue, which ended on Tuesday when the final four boys and their 25-year-old coach emerged from the cave, was released by authorities who had until late Wednesday closely guarded the details of the seemingly unprecedented operation.
Other video footage shows several of the boys in hospital, in quarantine and wearing face masks but seemingly in good health as they nod, wave and flash peace signs to the camera. The nerve-shredding three-day operation ended on Tuesday when the final members of the “Wild Boars” were freed from the cave which had held them captive since June 23. The rescue sparked jubilation with Thais heaping praise on the rescue team of foreign and local divers as the triumphant tagline “Hooyah” pinballed across social media. But Thai authorities have been coy on how a group of boys, many of whom could not swim and none with diving experience, could have navigated the treacherous narrow and submerged passageways of the Tham Luang complex, even with expert diving support. After days of mounting speculation, a former Thai Navy SEAL diver broke the silence, revealing the boys were sleeping or partially-conscious as they were passed from diver-to-diver through the cave. “Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers… (as if) groggy, but they were breathing,” Commander Chaiyananta Peeranarong told AFP.