CHIANG RAI: Before they were found by two British cave divers, 12 schoolboys from the Wild Boar Academy football team and their coach dug a hole with pieces of rock every day in a bid to escape from the waterlogged Tham Luang cave complex, said an army medic who stayed with them throughout the rescue mission.
In a Facebook post on Monday (Jul 16), Pak Loharnshoon wrote that the survivors had dug holes as deep as 5m despite their lack of food, and praised them for maintaining good morale in a time of crisis.
After the "Wild Boars" were discovered on Jul 2, he was one of the four Thai officials who volunteered to remain with the stranded until they were safely evacuated.
“I’m touched by their innocence, optimism and great morale despite the environment and crisis,” he wrote. “They’re well-disciplined and would put all the food waste into garbage bags at the end of every meal.”
According to Pak, the boys' 25-year-old coach Ekapol “Ake” Chanthawong, one of the last people to leave the area where the 13 were trapped, had taught the boys not to bring back anything belonging to the caves and everyone had obeyed.
“Coach Ek has a good heart and truly sacrificed," he said. "I had noticed since my early days (inside the caves) he’d wait until they had eaten enough and also give them his share of food."
"I’m confident he had looked after them well before they were found, as their physical and psychological health was much stronger than what I had expected.”
The army medic also said every boy from the Wild Boar Academy was well aware of people’s sacrifices in the search operation, adding that he was confident all of them would grow up to be “exceptional human resources of Thailand and contribute to the country as well as its fame".
READ MORE | Full coverage of the search and rescue operation: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/topic/Thailand-cave-rescue