Thailand's cave boys wake up at home for first time in weeks

A map locating the Tham Luang cave complex

A map locating the Tham Luang cave complex

No questions were asked about a Thai rescuer, 38 year-old Saman Kunan, who died by drowning on July 6 during the rescue operation.

"On the first day we were ok, but after two days we started feeling exhausted", said Pornchai Kamluang, 16, adding that their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, told them to stay still when possible to preserve energy. "The vans are leaving", said a Reuters witness, as the boys, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a red graphic of a wild boar with backpacks slung over their shoulders, ran a gauntlet of media cameras to get into the vans.

"I want to be a navy SEAL because I want to help others", said another boy.

"After two days, I started to feel weak", said Pornchai Kamluang, 16, to reporters.

Nine days later, the boys - aged 11 to 17 - and their 25-year-old coach were found dishevelled and emaciated but alive on a muddy ledge about four kilometres inside the complex cave.

"Bringing the Wild Boars Home", read a banner in Thai hung above the platform.

"When they came out of the water, I was surprised", Adul, who acted as the group's interpreter, said.

ONE OF THE RESCUED BOYS, who added that he felt he "deserved it".

Ekarat Wongsukchan, 14, said they decided "to calm ourselves first, to try to fix the problem and find a way out".

The team chose to enter the cave after their soccer practice on June 23, 25-year-old coach Ekapol Chanthawong told reporters on Wednesday. "If he wants anything we'll buy it for him as a present as we promised that when he gets out, whatever he wants we'll do it for him", Banphot said.

"We took turns digging at the cave walls". "So we dug holes to find a way to escape and stopped when we were exhausted". That represents a depth of 10-13 feet. "Some aren't strong swimmers, however".

The team had no food at all until they were found deep in the complex, surviving only on water that dripped down the side of the cave.

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One of the boys, 11-year-old Chanin "Titan" Vibulrungruang, the youngest of the group, appeared to wipe away a tear.

The "Wild Boars" team members looked healthy and happy as they answered questions about the nine days they spent in the dark before being discovered by members of an global rescue team.

Thoughts of their parents also preoccupied the boys, with one admitting, "I was afraid".

The boys said that they didn't bring food into the cave with them because it wasn't supposed to be a long adventure.

Boys wore full-face masks and were attached to divers on either end, who guided them through the cave's winding chambers.

Not even the foreign cave diving specialists who took part were sure the mission would work.

But with more rain expected, a risky rescue was attempted.

"This experience has taught me that living carelessly has consequences - good and bad", Adul added.

The boys have already said they would become Buddhist novices to honour former Thai Navy SEAL diver who died in the cave while making preparations for their rescue. "We were very sad".

After more than week trapped in the cold and dark, they finally saw a flash light.

Numerous boys hail from the sleepy district of Mae Sai, near the border with Myanmar.

Numerous boys apologised for not telling their parents about venturing into the cave, only saying that they were going for football practice.

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