The Thai navy has released new footage from inside the Tham Luang caves, where 12 boys and their coach were trapped for more than two weeks, revealing more details about the multi-day rescue mission that captured the attention of the world.
At the start of the seven-minute video, posted on Facebook just a day after the last of the 13 members of the group were successfully escorted out of the cave, two divers are seen adjusting their equipment while standing chest-deep in murky water. Lit by several beams of white light, the divers in wet suits and helmets are seen submerging themselves in the water and grabbing on to a metal dive line used to guide them through the winding channels of the six-mile cave.
A former Thai navy SEAL told Agence France-Presse that the 12 boys were partially sedated, fitted with a full face mask and passed from diver to diver through the cave complex in stretchers. There were also doctors stationed throughout the journey to monitor the condition of the boys, AFP reported.
Each of these arduous round trips took between nine and 11 hours for the international team of 18 divers. To swim through the flooded tunnels, which could get as narrow as 15 inches, one diver held the front end of the stretcher, along with the boy’s oxygen tank, while another held the rear end of the stretcher.
The new video from the navy does not include footage of the divers in the water with the boys, but it does show a team of people using pulleys, string and rubber tubes to haul a green, kayak-shaped stretcher out of a tight crevice. As the cave begins to open up toward the entrance, dozens are seen crouching down and wading through gushing water to help carry the stretcher. One of the boys lies on it covered in a metallic, reflective material.
There is still some uncertainty about the degree to which the boys were sedated before being escorted out. The diver who spoke to AFP said the boys were “groggy” but “breathing” when he helped to pull them out, while the BBC reported that according to divers, the boys were “heavily sedated to avoid anxiety.” Around five minutes into this video, the boy shown on screen has his eyes closed but appears conscious, bringing his right hand to his torso as people gather around him.
Although the boys spent nine days without food and over two weeks in the dark, damp cave, they seem to be in good health. In another video, released by the government of Thailand on Wednesday, the boys seem energetic and healthy. Some are walking around, while others sit up in their beds, waving at cameras and flashing the spider-man hand sign from their quarantined unit at the Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital.
Doctors said that when the boys first arrived, one had a heartbeat that was too slow and some other had low counts of white-blood-cells, though those issues have since been resolved. The boys are expected to be released within seven days unless further complications emerge.