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Kids lost weight but ‘took care of themselves’ in Thai cave

  • Author: Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Associated Press
  • Updated: July 10
  • Published July 10

In this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 show the last four Thai Navy SEALs come out safely after completing the rescued mission inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Thailand's navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a flooded cave in far northern Thailand, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)

MAE SAI, Thailand — The soccer teammates rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand lost weight during their 18-day ordeal but had water while they were trapped and are in good health, a health official said Wednesday.

The 12 boys and coach rescued over the three previous days “took care of themselves well in the cave,” Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, said at a news conference at the hospital in Chiang Rai city where the group is recovering.

The four boys rescued Sunday can eat normal food and walk around, and the four pulled out Monday were eating soft food. Thongchai said one member of the final group of four boys and the coach who arrived at the hospital Tuesday evening had a slight lung infection.

Two of the first group had a lung infection as well, and Thongchai said they would need medicine for seven days.

The average weight loss was 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) for those with known information, Thongchai said. They were able to obtain water dripping inside the cave.

The group had entered the sprawling Tham Luang cave to go exploring after soccer practice on June 23, but monsoon rains soon filled the tight passageways, blocking their escape. They were found by a pair of British divers 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny.

The complex, high-risk mission for international and Thai divers to guide the boys and coach through the cave’s flooded and tight passageways had riveted people worldwide. Highlighting the dangers, a former Thai navy SEAL volunteering to work on the rescue efforts died Friday while replenishing oxygen canisters that were placed along the escape route.

FILE - In this Thursday, June 28, 2018, file photo, rescue personnel walk out of the entrance to a cave complex where it's believed that 12 youth soccer team members and their coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. For the boys and their coach, we have only a hint of what it might have been like. But for the rest of us, watching from afar as the world’s journalists beamed us live shots and the unknowable became known drip by captivating drip, we knew only one thing: It was hard to look away. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

Each of the boys, ages 11 to 16 and with no diving experience, was guided out by a pair of divers though rocky, muddy and water passages that in places were just a crawl space.

The method was extremely risky, but dwindling oxygen levels in the cave and fears of more monsoon rains to come made a decision urgent. Relatively mild weather and a massive effort to pump out water created a window of opportunity. And the confidence of the diving team, and expertise specific to the cave, grew after its first successful mission Sunday.

The boys were in isolation in the hospital to prevent infections by outsiders. But family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass barrier, and after a period of time with no problems, the family members would be allowed closer while dressed in sterilized clothing.

Health officials have also previously said the boys would get a mental health evaluation, to address any problems caused by their ordeal. Outside experts have said the group identity of the soccer teammates and their youth would aid their ability to recover.

Thai media listen Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is leading the ongoing rescue operation of the soccer team and coach trapped in a flooded cave, during a press conference in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 10, 2018.Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Students pray at Maesaiprasitsart school where six out of the rescued 12 boys study as they cheer the successful rescue in the Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand has saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai)
An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys from the flooded cave heads to the hospital in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated the remaining boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
FILE - In this June 27, 2018, file photo, a Thai Buddhist monk prays for 12 boys and their soccer coach, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. For the boys and their coach, we have only a hint of what it might have been like. But for the rest of us, watching from afar as the world’s journalists beamed us live shots and the unknowable became known drip by captivating drip, we knew only one thing: It was hard to look away. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
FILE - In this Monday, July 2, 2018, file photo, family members hug after hearing the news that the missing 12 boys and their soccer coach have been found in the flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. For the boys and their coach, we have only a hint of what it might have been like. But for the rest of us, watching from afar as the world’s journalists beamed us live shots and the unknowable became known drip by captivating drip, we knew only one thing: It was hard to look away. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
FILE - In this Friday, June 29, 2018, file photo, a rescuer makes her way down muddy steps past water pump hoses at the entrance to a cave complex where it's believed that 12 soccer team members and their coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. For the boys and their coach, we have only a hint of what it might have been like. But for the rest of us, watching from afar as the world’s journalists beamed us live shots and the unknowable became known drip by captivating drip, we knew only one thing: It was hard to look away. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
FILE - This Monday, July 2, 2018, file photo provided by Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center shows a group of Thai youth soccer players and their coach as they were found in a partially flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. For the boys and their coach, we have only a hint of what it might have been like. But for the rest of us, watching from afar as the world’s journalists beamed us live shots and the unknowable became known drip by captivating drip, we knew only one thing: It was hard to look away. (Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP, File)
Peoples celebrate after evacuation in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated some of the 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
People wait as police block the road during an emergency helicopter evacuation in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated some of the 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

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