The Thai boys saved from a flooded cave endured dives in zero visibility lasting up to half an hour and in places were put in a harness and high-lined across rocky caverns, said a leader of the USA dive team that was part of the operation.
One of the Thai boys is seen being stretchered out of the cave on Tuesday night.
The eventual rescue of all 12 boys from the Tham Luang cave prompted worldwide joy. Helicopters transporting the boys roared overhead.
Soldiers and rescue workers cleaning up at the end of the rescue mission.
Speaking to CNN, an emotional Wongsukchan said he had spent 16 days worrying about his son, and he was "so happy and appreciative" of the rescue effort. "And actually just everyone in the world because every news channel has presented this story and this is what we have been waiting for".
The positive pressure masks were "really crucial", he said.
Amporn Sriwichai, an aunt of rescued coach Ekkapol Chantawong, was ecstatic.
They were lost for nine days before British rescue divers discovered them on July 2, sitting on a ledge in a half-flooded chamber.
The group had entered the sprawling Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand to go exploring after soccer practice on June 23, but monsoon rains filled the tight passageways, blocking their escape, and pushing them deeper inside in search of a refuge.
In some phases they were guided by two divers.
Wat Rong Khun (aka the White Temple) in the city of Chiang Rai, in Chiang Rai province.
Federation Internationale de Football Association also expressed condolences to the family of a Thai Navy SEAL who died after running out of oxygen during the rescue operation on Friday.
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Cave-diving experts had warned diving the youngsters out was potentially too risky. A massive effort to pump out water made the winding passageways more navigable. This mission was successful because of cooperation from everyone.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha asked that the boys be given time and space to recover.
Remarkably, doctors who have treated the rescued boys say they are in good health after their ordeal. If they're chloroformed, how could they come out?
"From our assessment, they are in good condition and not stressed".
Some of the children rescued even had a typical kid's request at the hospital after being trapped without food for so long - bread with chocolate spread.
A Thai health official says the soccer teammates rescued from a flooded cave lost weight during their two-week ordeal but had water while they were trapped and are in good health. The lab results for the first two groups show no signs of melioidosis, leptospirosis, scrub typhus or nipah virus.
"The kids are footballers, so they have high immune systems", Jedsada told a news conference. "But we will have a psychiatrist evaluate them".
In his letter, Ake apologised to the parents for taking the boys into the cave network, but several replied to say they did not blame him.
He said: "We are not heroes".
"If this place had a roof, the morale has gone straight through it", he said.
President Donald Trump joined those paying tribute to the rescuers.
Another video released on Facebook by Thailand's Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue, apparently shows one of the boys being carried through part of the muddy cave on a stretcher covered by an emergency thermal blanket. "Such a attractive moment - all freed, great job!" "All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave", the Seals said, referring to the name of the boys' football team. This means they will not be able to take up the invitation from Federation Internationale de Football Association to attend the Soccer World Cup final in Moscow.
Araya Hargate, one of Thailand's top actresses, posted a cartoon of the boys surrounded by rescuers on her Instagram page, which has 7.9 million followers.
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