As news spread by word of mouth at the scene, dozens of volunteers and journalists camped out nearby threw their hands up and cheered. The team was officially reported missing after not returning home on June 23. The boys were still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week to undergo tests, officials said earlier on Tuesday.
Miles away from the Thai city, thousands across the world joined them in celebration.
When no clear opening could be found atop the mountain range housing the cave, having the boys swim out with the 18-strong team of British, Australian, Chinese, Thai, American, and Danish divers was considered the least risky of a range of daunting options.
Thailand has been riveted by the dramatic rescue mission to save the "Wild Boars" team after they first got trapped in Tham Luang more than two weeks ago by rising floodwaters. The water level has reached the lowest it has been in ten days.
Soccer's governing body, FIFA, has invited the boys to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday if they're well enough to attend.
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Rescuers working at a cave site in northern Thailand have suspended operations for the day after bringing four more boys out of the flooded cave system on Monday. Two divers helped each one make his way through dark, very narrow passages, some of which are filled with dirty water.
Divers, however, rescued the remaining boys and their 25-year-old coach without the help of Musk's submarine.
It comes after he posted photos from inside the Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai on the final day of rescue operations.
The 53-year-old expert cave diver and anesthetist from Adelaide knows exactly how tragically these unsafe scenarios can play out, after the death of his friend Agnes Milowka, 29, who lost touch with a group of divers in Tank Cave, South Australia, in 2011.
"I think everyone will welcome them back with the love". A medic and three Thai Navy SEALs who have stayed with the boys on a small, dry shelf deep in the flooded cave will also come out, he said. At the time, the Thai SEAL unit vowed to continue rescue efforts, writing on Facebook: "The determination and dedication of Saman will always be in all of our frogmen hearts.We will complete this mission, just as Saman intended".
'D-Day': dangerous mission underway to save Thai boys trapped in cave
Initial euphoria over finding the boys alive quickly turned into deep anxiety as rescuers struggled to find a way to get them out. The boys' conditions were "not that bad" and "they're OK", according to Eve Tapanya from the Tourist Police.
President Donald Trump congratulated the Thai SEALs on Twitter.
John Tangkitcharoenthawon, a local village chairman, was bursting with happiness over the successful rescue.
An additional four boys were brought out on Monday, and the last four boys and the coach were rescued on Tuesday. The team also has plenty to look forward to.
"We would be honoured to welcome the team from the Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season".
As the 12 soccer players and their coach emerged from a Thailand cave after a more than two-week ordeal, there is already a movie in the works.
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