Thai PM thanks people involved in cave rescue

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) – Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has thanked people involved in the rescue of the 12 boys and coach trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks.

Prayuth gave a televised national address yesterday, saying the government’s efforts, the assistance of people in Thailand and abroad, and the outpouring of moral support made the mission a success.

He also acknowledged the loss of a former navy SEAL, Saman Kunan, who died last week while replenishing air tanks inside the cave. Prayuth said, “His honour, sacrifice and legacy will forever be in our hearts.”

The football teammates had become trapped in the cave on June 23 and were finally extracted by experienced divers over three days.

A Thai health official says the football teammates rescued from a flooded cave lost weight during their two-week ordeal but had water while they were trapped and are in good health.

Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, (L), speaks during a press conference at a hospital in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. – AP

Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, said yesterday the 12 boys and coach rescued over the three previous days “took care of themselves well in the cave”.

Thongchai said one member of the final group of four boys and the coach who arrived at a hospital on Tuesday evening had a slight lung infection.

Two of the first group had a lung infection as well, and Thongchai said they would need medicine for seven days.

Divers extracted the team in a high-risk mission inside the flooded passageways. The group entered the cave on June 23 but flooding cut off the exit.

The last member of the rescue team to leave the Thai cave, Australian doctor Richard Harris, has lost his father.

Harris’ boss Andrew Pearce said in a statement the father had died shortly after the last of the 13 football team members was freed from the cave.

Pearce said, “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 operation.”

Pearce said the anaesthetist and experienced cave diver would return to his home in Adelaide city soon. Harris played a part in deciding the order in which the 13 were freed.

Pearce did not say how the father had died and asked for the family’s privacy to be respected.