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Father: Boys only planned to stay in Thai cave one hour

Members of the boys soccer team saved from a cave in Thailand this week had only planned on being inside for about an hour, family members say.

Tanawut, the father of the youngest survivor, Titan, told CBS This Morning the boys were forced deeper into the cave when underground chambers began to flood. Their coach tried to swim and find a way out, but the water was too fast and too deep.

Twelve boys and the coach were stranded in the cave for more than two weeks. The last of the children were rescued Tuesday.

Titan said the first three days were the most difficult, as the group was hungry, cold and had trouble sleeping.

"Coach Ake hugged and encouraged him to be strong," Tanawut said.

All 13 are recovering at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital and doing well, officials said.

The group's well-being became a serious concern due to the depth of the cave, the rising floodwaters, the lack of rescue options and the possibility that they could be forced to stay there for months.

Australian medic Richard Harris, who stayed in the cave for three days with the boys during the rescue effort, described on Facebook how difficult and dangerous the mission was.

"When it seemed all other options were exhausted, the decision to swim the players out was made and the rescue went ahead," Harris said. "The pressure that was put on [the rescue divers] was immense and they never dropped the ball for a second."

After the rescue, Harris was commended by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

"He was an integral part of the rescue attempt," she said, adding the doctor is internationally renowned for his cave rescue expertise.

Retired fireman Rick Stanton and diver John Volanthen first discovered the team after a nine-day search.

"Initially, of course, excitement, relief that they were still alive," Stanton said Friday, when asked to describe his feelings when the boys were located.

"Then, of course, when we departed, all we could think about was how we were going to get them out. So there was relief, tempered with uncertainty."

Diver Chris Jewell said diving conditions were extremely challenging.

"There was poor visibility and responsibility for another human being's life."

"The Thai authorities took a lot of steps to divert rivers on the mountaintop, which we believe bought us as lot of time to get this outcome," he added.

The rescue was so dangerous, four Thai navy SEALs who brought the children out barely escaped themselves after the last boy and coach were removed. That's when the main pump that siphoned millions of gallons of rain water from the cave failed.

Saman Gunan, a 38-year-old former Thai diver who volunteered for the rescue, died last week as he delivered oxygen tanks along the cave route.

https://www.geezgo.com/sps/30449
Father: Boys only planned to stay in Thai cave one hour Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 7:25 PM Rating: 5

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