There are calls for heroic Australian cave divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen to be recognised with the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross — the Cross of Valour for their efforts in the Thai Cave Rescue.
It is the country’s highest civilian bravery award, for acts of “conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.
However Dr Harris and Dr Challen, who are due to return to Australia today, deflected attention towards an international taskforce they worked alongside to help save the lives of the Wild Boars soccer team in northern Thailand.
“The favourable outcome that has been achieved is almost beyond our imagination when we first became involved in this operation,” the two said in a statement.
“We are humbled to have been able to provide our expertise and experience to assist in this international operation led by the Thai government.
“We particularly would like to thank the players and their coach for placing their trust in us. We wish them a speedy recovery.”
An online petition organised by Change.org by has already attracted more than 20,000 signatures advocating the men are recognised with the highest civilian bravery honour.
Dr Harris, who learnt of his father’s death on Tuesday night shortly after emerging from Tham Luang cave for the final time, said there was zero visibility, with the final 200m particularly difficult to navigate.
“You’re following the (guide) line with your hand and you basically might as well have your eyes closed with a small boy being cradled in your arms and feeling your way through rocks and posting yourself sideways through little holes,” he told the Prime Minister after the rescue.
Watch the full report above.