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The team had only meant to spend an hour there on June 23, as numerous boys had been before, but became trapped after heavy rains caused the cave's chambers to quickly flood.
The 12-member Wild Boars soccer team and their coach rescued from a flooded cave pose with a drawing of Samarn Kunan, a former Thai navy diver who died working to rescue them at the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
The team had only planned for a one-hour excursion into the cave prior to soccer practice and did not have food packed for the trip. They did not carry any food or water with them.
The boys, who were discharged from hospital on Wednesday, appeared in front of the world's media at a specially arranged press conference in Chiang Rai.
The boys put on a quick demonstration of their ball-handling skills in a special miniature soccer field set up in the hall where they met the media. They quickly found that the floodwaters had blocked their exit. Heavy rain began falling while they were underground, and water filled the caverns, cutting off their escape.
However, the water continued to rise. He taught the boys to meditate, as a way to save their energy and calm them down.
"I told everyone to fight and not be defeated", Chanthawong said. As the hours passed, they lost sense of how long they had been in the cave's dark chambers.
The youth football team rescued after 18 days trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand are expected to be released from hospital and to speak about their ordeal. A video was also shown of them thanking hospital staff.
"I told them I was going to Tham Khun Nam", he said.
They sent their condolences to Kunan's family, while one boy said, "I want to say thank you".
But when morning came, conditions had worsened in the cave, they said. But by this time the tunnels had become partially flooded, forcing the group to head back towards the cave's entrance. "I had to pick a Japanese reporter up from the airport at 2 a.m.", said Manop Netsuwan, a Chiang Rai resident and tour operator. They managed to dig about four meters (roughly 13 feet).
Appearing at a press conference beamed worldwide, the "Wild Boars" team members appeared healthy and happy despite the nine days they spent in the dark before being found by an global rescue team and extracted days later.
One of the boys added, "We used stones to dig in the cave". "We took turns along the way". But they struggled to answer all of the diver's questions - in large part because they were so hungry.
When they realized it was real, he said, "We were startled". "The water rose three meters", or almost 10 feet. In response, he ordered the group to find higher ground. They also talked about returning to the cave the next day. "We went into the cave because everyone wanted to see it". At first, they thought they were hallucinating. "Is it true? I was frightened, I was nervous". "I didn't tell them I went to Tham Luang". So he took the boys deeper into the cave, assuming that if they waited until the morning the water level would drop enough to make it safe for them to cross.
Panumas "Mig" Sangdee, 13, had a flashlight in his hand but he was too scared to go and investigate the source of the voices, Adul said. I went in there and the noise [replied], 'hello, is anyone there?' So I said I am okay. They didn't show their faces at first. If they felt a command - two tugs - it meant he was stuck and needed to be pulled out.
But in fact, they had all meant to go to his party later that same day - after venturing inside the cave complex. In the footage, Volanthen asked Adul how he was and how many were in his group.
"I was fully expecting that we would accept casualties".