The 12 boys rescued from a Thai cave have been moved to tears as they paid tribute to the former Navy SEAL who died ahead of their dramatic rescue.
Saman Kunan, 37, died on July 6 while placing oxygen tanks in the Tham Luang cave in preparation for the rescue of the 12 boys and their coach.
The “Wild Boars” football team, who are recovering in hospital following 18 days spent inside the cave, wrote messages of thanks on a picture of Saman after they were told of the diver’s death for the first time since they emerged from their ordeal.
Images of the children in their hospital gowns with their heads bowed low were released on Sunday as British divers involved in the international rescue mission claimed the Thai Navy were “out of their depth” before their crucial intervention.
Doctors at the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital where the boys, aged 11 to 16, are being treated said on Sunday that they were in good health and are expected to be discharged on Thursday.
The health ministry said the overall condition for the players and coach was “normal”, though many are still on a course of antibiotics after spending days in the damp and dark trapped underground.
- Thai soccer coach starved himself to keep his team alive
- Calls for soccer coach to be granted citizenship after Thai cave ordeal
- The terrifying moment cave rescuers had to run for their lives
- ‘I want to hug him’: Father of Thai cave boy shares relief
- ‘Incredibly resilient’: US diver explains tricky cave rescue
Over the weekend, Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a royal decree promoting Petty Officer First Class Kunan to lieutenant commander while honouring him with the royal decoration of Knight Grand Cross (first class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.
The now lieutenant commander was the only fatality in the operation.