The 12 boys rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand have been discharged from hospital.
An AFP correspondent on the scene saw the team, who were wearing football kits, board three minibuses at the hospital in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai province.
The footballers from the “Wild Boars” club are being discharged a day earlier than previously announced, with authorities hoping a question and answer session.
The boys (aged between 11-16) and their coach who looked very healthy and excited in matching outfits, headed straight to an organised press conference where they took turns recounting their grueling experience while they waited to be rescued.
In a video played at a news conference on Saturday, they appeared well, sitting up in bed, and thanking their rescuers.
“I am in good health now,” said one of the boys, a 14-year-old nicknamed Note.
Sitting beside the boys were the Thai Navy SEALs who stayed inside the cave with them once they were found.
The boys, led by their coach Ekkapol Chanthawong, 25, got trapped in the cave on June 23rd.
A rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.
Two British divers found them on July 2, squatting on a mound in a flooded chamber several kilometres inside the complex.
Then the problem became how to get them back out through the tunnels, some completely full of fast-flowing flood water.
All 13 were brought to safety over the course of a three-day rescue, organised by Thai Navy SEALs and an international team of cave-diving experts.
Mr Piyasakol told reporters the health of all 13 had improved.
Dr Harris, nicknamed “Harry” by other members of the rescue team, stayed in the cave for three days to oversee the medical care of the boys while they were waiting to be rescued, and played a key part in deciding the order of extractions.
Doctors have advised families of the players, aged 11 to 16, that they should avoid letting them contact journalists for at least one month.
Ekkapol, speaking about former NAVY Seal Saman Kunan who died during the operation said:
“We are impressed that Saman sacrificed his life to save us so that we could go and live our lives. Once we heard the news, we were shocked. We were very sad. We felt like… we caused sadness to his family.”
Back home in Adelaide the anaesthetist and experienced cave diver said it had been “bittersweet” leaving the cave to learn news that his father had passed away.
“I’ve been very grateful for everyone respecting my privacy while I’m dealing with that with my family and just trying to get back to normal life as fast as possible,” he said.
Many have called for Dr Harris to be nominated for Australian of the year for his heroic role in rescuing the boys.