Thailand cave rescue: Brit divers who found boys 'deserve George Cross'

Australian media said he put his own life at risk to venture four kilometres into the flooded cave to medically assess the 12 boys and their coach

Members of the Thai navy SEAL team who were among the first searchers to penetrate the watery depth of Tham Luang Nang Non cave and the last divers out flew Thursday to their base at Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand, where they received a heroes' welcome.

Anaesthetist Richard Harris, who did the final medical checks of the 12 trapped boys and their coach, was among the divers who successfully ended on Tuesday a mission that had gripped the attention of the world.

"It might be because they were all together as a team, helping one another out", public health ministry inspector-general Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong told reporters, singling out their 25-year-old coach for keeping their spirits high.

The rescue was carried out by an elite team of global divers, led by Britons, who guided the sluggish youngsters along the tortuous two-and-a-half-mile escape route, the Daily Mail reports.

"Some of them were asleep, and some of them were wiggling their fingers, kind of groggy, but they were breathing".

"FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation and we will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a Federation Internationale de Football Association event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration". In underwater parts, they were pulled along in a dream-like state by divers.

Expert divers from the Thai Navy SEALs, experienced in conventional diving situations, were faced with an unprecedented challenge.

But he had denied they were knocked out for an operation the chief of the rescue had dubbed "mission impossible".

It emerged last night that the pumps draining water from the cave dramatically failed shortly after the final boy was rescued.

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"Suddenly the Australian guy who was overseeing that area started shouting that the water pump had stopped working", said Mr Chaiyananta. And the confidence of the diving team, and expertise specific to the cave, grew after its first successful mission Sunday.

"Don't need to worry about their physical health and even more so for their mental health", said Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.

The world held its breath over the three days it took to retrieve the Wild Boars.

The exact mechanics of the rescue bid were closely guarded during the operation, but details have since dribbled out. He said he just came to save the kids.

"I think he helped the children a lot, being a novice monk for 10 years", said Charoenpol.

Rescuers had weighed up several options to save the boys, including keeping them in the cave through the months-long monsoon season. That ultimately proved not to be an option when oxygen levels within the tunnels dropped to risky levels.

Narongsak also paid tribute to former Thai SEAL diver Saman Kunan, who died in the attempt to save the boys, saying his sacrifice added to the team's determination to complete their mission.

That sign off quickly turned into a hashtag shared across social media, where luminaries of business, politics and sport extended their best wishes to the team and the rescuers.

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