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Sources:| Associated Press
New video has emerged of the moment one of the trapped Thai boys was taken out of the dark and muddy cave on a stretcher.
The boy was covered in emergency thermal blankets.
Rescuers are shown carrying the stretcher to safety in the footage released by the Thai Navy SEALs.
Ecstatic relatives have also been caught waving from behind a glass barrier, as the rescued boys made the V-for-Victory sign today from their beds in a hospital isolation ward where they are recovering from the ordeal that lasted 18 days for some of the boys.
An American involved in the operation described the perilous zero-visibility dives that brought the boys out safely as a "once in a lifetime rescue".
Derek Anderson, a 32-year-old rescue specialist with the U.S. Air Force based in Okinawa, Japan, said that at times during the risky rescue, the boys had to be put into harnesses and high-lined across the rocky caverns. At other times, they endured dives lasting up to half an hour in the pitch-black waters.
"The world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue," Anderson told The Associated Press in an interview on today.
"We were extremely fortunate that the outcome was the way it was. It's important to realise how complex and how many pieces of this puzzle had to come together."
He said the boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16, were "incredibly resilient."
"What was really important was the coach and the boys all came together and discussed staying strong, having the will to live, having the will to survive," Anderson said.
That gutsy determination was on display today in a video taken from the hospital isolation ward.
The boys, their faces covered by green surgical masks, flashed the V-for-Victory sign as they sat up in bed and chatted with their nurses, at times responding with the customary Thai sign of respect — hands pressed together while bowing the head.
The youngest boy, 11, appeared to be asleep under a crisp white sheet.
"Don't need to worry about their physical health and even more so for their mental health," said Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.
"Everyone is strong in mind and heart," he said at a news conference of officials involved in the rescue.
The four boys and 25-year-old soccer coach who were brought out Tuesday on the final day of the three-day rescue effort have recovered more quickly than the boys rescued on Monday and Tuesday, Chaiwetch said.
Even so, all need to be monitored in the hospital for a week and then rest at home for another 30 days, he said. Three have slight lung infections.
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