Thai Navy SEALS release footage of cave rescue
Thai Navy SEALS have released dramatic footage showing the moment some of the trapped cave boys were brought to safety.
The video, released on the Thai Navy SEALs Facebook page, shows divers using pulleys, ropes and rubber piping to bring the boys out.
It also shows the boys being passed on stretchers through the dangerous pathways.
Working in muddy conditions, the divers carried the boys, covered with thermal blankets, through the dark.
Details are beginning to emerge of just how dangerous the rescue mission was to free the 12 boys and their soccer coach who became stranded inside the Tham Luang cave network on June 23
A former Thai Navy SEAL who was the last diver to leave the Tham Luang complex told AFP the boys were wrapped up in stretchers when they were being transferred.
"Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers... (as if) groggy, but they were breathing," Commander Chaiyananta Peeranarong said.
The SEALS posted the footage along with a post thanking those who took part in the seemingly impossible rescue mission calling it "the operation the world must remember and the operation the world must never forget."
"18 days that all the people of the world are together together, together with the power to bring cuddle football team, boar team, 12 people and coach home," it reads in a translation from Thai.
The video footage comes as an American involved in the operation described the perilous zero-visibility dives that brought the boys out safely as a "once in a lifetime rescue."
Derek Anderson, a 32-year-old rescue specialist with the US Air Force based in Okinawa, Japan, said the boys had to be put into harnesses and high-lined across the rocky caverns at various times during the risky rescue.
At other times, they endured dives lasting up to half an hour in the pitch-black waters.
"The world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue," he told The Associated Press.
"We were extremely fortunate that the outcome was the way it was. It's important to realize how complex and how many pieces of this puzzle had to come together."
He said the boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16, were "incredibly resilient."
"What was really important was the coach and the boys all came together and discussed staying strong, having the will to live, having the will to survive," Mr Anderson said.
The rescue operation involved more than 90 divers from several countries, including Australia with Adelaide-based anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris playing a leading role in the mission.
The boys and their coach are now recovering in hospital with pictures emerging of their happy faces surrounded by medical staff as their parents look on behind a glass screen.
The Thai Navy SEAL's also praised Dr Harris, whose own father passed away hours after the mission was completed and the last of the group was brought to safety.
In a Facebook post the SEALS said Dr Harris couldn't be thanked enough for what he did.
"Our condolences to Doctor Richard Harris, one of the leading rescuers whose father just passed away hours after his rescue mission had been completed," a Facebook post reads.
"We wish you the best for this very tough time. We never thank you enough for what you’ve done for the kids, their families and Thailand. Thank you, Richard and thank you, Australia!"