PH lauds Thailand for daring cave rescue of boys soccer team

Some of the boys wave from their hospital beds

Volanthen praised the entire worldwide rescue team, which included 90 of the best scuba divers from around the world, for saving the group, who became trapped when monsoon rains struck on June 23 and flooded their exit.

"We have two obstacles: water and time", he said this past Sunday, as rain began to fall across the site near the cave entrance.

"That was a massive, massive relief".

The boys, whose ages range from 11 to 16, and their coach, Ekaphol "Ake" Chantawong, 25, remained in isolation wards in hospital.

"They should realise that not only have they given a gift to these boys and their families, they've given a gift to every other Australian".

"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".

"The diving conditions were extremely challenging, there was poor visibility and responsibility for another human being's life".

"The part we played has been made out to be a lot more noble than it actually was, we just consider ourselves lucky to have had some skills that we could contribute to the wonderful outcome."

He paid tribute to Petty Officer 1st Class Saman Kunan, a former Thai navy diver who died during the operation.

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Dr Richard Harris has praised the efforts of everyone involved in the successful cave dive rescue of 12 trapped boys and their football coach in Thailand.

Mr Volanthen told BBC he and other rescuers "are not heroes".

When Volanthen, 50, arrived at Heathrow Airport in London later Thursday, he was greeted by reporters and cheered by people who recognized him.

Arriving back in the United Kingdom, he said everybody had "pulled together" and was "very, very pleased it worked out quite so well".

Wild Boars head coach Nopparat Khantavong said his remaining players were in good spirits after returning to practice knowing their friends were safe.

"We were very pleased and we were very relieved that they were all alive, but I think at that point we realized the enormity of the situation, and that's perhaps why it took a while to get them all out", Volanthen told Reuters after landing in the United Kingdom. Anderson said one of the most crucial pieces of equipment was the positive pressure diving masks, which would expel water from the mask if one of the boys panicked.

"What we do is very calculating".

You seem like a hero to us, mate. "It's quite the opposite". "This is what we have been racing against since day one".

As well as Mr Stanton, fellow divers Chris Jewell and Connor Roe, both from Somerset; Josh Bratchley, from Devon; Jim Warny, from Co Clare, Ireland; Mike Clayton, from Yorkshire; and Gary Mitchell, from Wales, returned to the United Kingdom on Friday.

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