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New video shows Thai boys in good spirits, making victory signs

Sitting in a hospital isolation ward and wearing green surgical masks, the boys rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand's north appear in good spirits in new footage.

Key points:

  • The soccer team members lost an average of 2 kilograms during their ordeal
  • The group was trapped in the cave on June 23
  • Some parents have been able to meet their sons

The video shows the boys chatting with nurses and making two-finger victory signs. Some of their parents are seen crying and waving to them from behind glass.

The 12 boys and their soccer coach lost an average of 2 kilograms during their 17-day ordeal but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, a senior health official said.

Thais reacted with relief, gratitude and exhilaration after the last group of the Wild Boars soccer team was rescued from the Tham Luang cave on Tuesday — near the border with Myanmar — ending an ordeal that gripped Thailand and the world.

A group of Thai boys on a mountain.

The group was trapped in the cave on June 23, when they were exploring it after a soccer practice session and it became flooded by monsoon rains.

Each of the boys, aged 11 to 16 and with no diving experience, was guided out by a pair of divers in three days of intricate and high-stakes operations.

They were taken by helicopter to a hospital about 70 kilometres away to join their team mates in quarantine for the time being.

"From our assessment, they are in good condition and not stressed. The children were well taken care of in the cave. Most of the boys lost an average of 2 kilograms," Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, an inspector for Thailand's health department, said.

Parents of the first four boys freed on Sunday have been able to visit them but only when wearing protective suits and standing two metres away as a precaution.

Volunteers celebrate as news emerges that the rescue mission has been completed

Previously, they had only been able to observe the boys through a window.

Mr Thongchai said one from the last group rescued on Tuesday had a lung infection and they were all given vaccinations for rabies and tetanus.

Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, the director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, told a news conference involving officials who participated in the rescue that "everyone is strong in mind and heart".

Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said the boys were just being children when they got lost and no-one was to blame.

"We don't see the children as at fault or as heroes. They are children being children, it was an accident," he said.

Richard Harris (right), pictured with his dive partner Craig Challen, was the last man out of the cave

The boys were praised by one of their rescuers, Australian doctor Richard Harris, who told Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull they were "big heroes".

"They are the toughest blokes and kids I've ever had the privilege to meet," Dr Harris said.

"They are the ones who were responsible for their own morale and really their own safety and without them being in the state they were in we couldn't have done anything."

Diving in zero visibility conditions

Meanwhile, details of the methods used and the conditions faced by the rescuers emerged in a video released by the Thai Navy SEALs, later taken offline.

The boys saved from a flooded cave endured dives in zero visibility lasting up to half an hour.

In places, they were put into harnesses and high-lined across rocky caverns, according to a rescuer involved in the operation.

External Link: Facebook post: Thai Navy SEAL pay tribute to Richard Harris father

It was all part of an elaborate rescue mission involving more than 1,000 Thai army personnel and 90 divers, led by a British team, which helped remove the boys through the narrow caves back to the surface.

Dr Harris spent several days in the cave with the boys, checking each one medically before their journey above ground, only to find out that his father had died shortly afterwards.

Highlighting the dangers faced by the rescue team, a former Thai Navy SEAL died on Friday while replenishing the oxygen canisters.

Toby Hamnett from the British Cave Rescue Council told the ABC it was "one of the most difficult cave rescues I think we've seen", the likes of which we should not expect to see again anytime soon.

"The statistical chances of something like this happening again is very, very low," he said.

Thai Navy SEALs pose for a photo, making a thumbs up gesture.

ABC/wires

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