Soccer team stranded in Thai cave thank rescuers while they dream of home cooked meals and KFC

The 12 boys rescued from a flooded cave in Northern Thailand showed little sign of their 18-day underwater nightmare while they thanked their rescuers on Saturday, speaking out on video for the first time from their hospital beds.

“Now I am very fine,” 14-year-old Adul-Sam-on tells the camera, a small smile apparent despite the surgical mask he is sporting. “Thank you for helping me. Thank you so much.”

One of the 13-year-old boys, Sompong Jaiwong Pong, added he “would like to thank everyone who has supported me and I would like to thank people from around the world for helping us.”

Others on the team, some of them flexing their muscles while others flashed the victory sign, admitted they’ve been craving some good food, including classic Thai dishes, steak and the Colonel’s Kentucky fried chicken.

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Some of the boys lost as much as 11 pounds during their weeks-long wait for rescue in the dark Tham Luang cave, but they’re working to regain that weight under the watchful eye of doctors.

The video was shared during a news conference Saturday at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, where Public Health Minister Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn revealed the Wild Boar soccer team is expected to discharged on Thursday, according to Reuters.

“All of the 13 people, their physical bodies are strong and fit… now all are cleared, no fever,” he said.

It was previously reported several of the boys had been recovering from pneumonia, minor lung and middle ear infections as well.

The youth soccer team — ages 11 to 16 — and their 25-year-old soccer coach on June 23 walked into the cave, not far from the border of Myanmar, intending to explore its insides for an hour after practice. But heavy rainfall flooded their exit route and left them trapped in the cavern while water levels continued to rise.

They worked to find higher ground, using their hands to feel the walls for a potential tunnel or path that may lead them to safety.

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“They, all 13 of them, saw a small passage or a crawl space, so they all dug the hole to get through to another spot until they found Nen Nom Sao,” said Banphot Konkum — the father of one the previously trapped teens — of the sandy slope where they took shelter.

Rescuers said it was the boys’ hand prints that initially assured them the team survived before a pair of British divers discovered them on July 2. All 13 people were later extracted from the cave over the course of a three-day rescue mission, coordinated by the Thai Navy SEALS and an international team of expert divers.

While they are mostly in good health now, doctors say their are still concerned about their mental state and how they will handle their new-found fame in wake of the high-profile rescue. Their are already two production companies gearing up for a Hollywood version of the daring diving efforts.

“We need to prepare both the children and their families for the attention they will receive,” Piyasakol told reporters.

“Everyone has worked well together to bring the children out. We worked well together then and we should work well together now so the children can recover physically and mentally as they grow up.”

  • With News Wire Services