All 12 boys and their football coach have been successfully rescued on Tuesday evening, from a flooded cave in northern Thailand after 17 days trapped underground.
Authorities said they seemed to cope well with the mental strain of their time underground. Rescue teams brought them lights and letters from their parents to help them cope.
They reportedly entered the cave to celebrate one of the team’s birthday, and the snacks they brought with them are thought to have helped sustain them.
Their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, reportedly taught the team how to meditate to cope with the stress. He trained for a decade as a Buddhist monk before turning to football. The boys lost on average 2kg (4.4lb) during their ordeal but are said to be in good physical condition.
Footage from inside the cave shows the boys being carried on stretchers through dark and muddy conditions, covered by emergency thermal blankets. The group is currently being treated in hospital.
Narongsak Osatanaskorn, the former governor who has led the rescue said, “I never imagined this could happen but we did it. We completed mission impossible,” the beaming rescue chief told a throng of hundreds of reporters and support crew, before stepping forth and inviting the crowd to join him and pose for photos.
This week captivated the world, have had a tearful reunion with their parents as it was revealed just how close the mission came to disaster. Footage released by Thai authorities showed in hospital beds wearing surgical masks they clasping their palms in gratitude to the camera.
Divers who took part in the operation said the boys were heavily sedated to avoid anxiety as they went through the dark, narrow, underwater passageways.
Earlier on Wednesday, Rear Adm Arpakorn Yuukongkaew, the head of the Thai Navy Seals told “we had a little bit of hope that they might still be alive but we had to do it, we just had to move forward.” Then “hope became reality” with the rescue of the boys and their coach.
Once found, they were given “easy-to-digest, high-energy food with vitamins and minerals, under the supervision of a doctor”, he said.