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Boys trapped in Thai cave said that they tried to dig their way out

Twelve boys and their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, from the 'Wild Boars' soccer team speak during a press conference for the first time since they were rescued from a cave in northern Thailand last week, on July 18, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were discharged early from Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital after a speedy recovery and thanked those involved in their rescue. (Linh Pham/Getty Images)

During a press conference, the 12 boys and their soccer coach who spent weeks trapped in a cave in Thailand revealed that they had desperately tried to dig themselves out of the cave after realizing that they had become trapped.

Here's what you need to know

On Wednesday, the boys and their coach sat down for their first press conference to talk about their ordeal.

It was the coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, who mentioned their own attempts to escape. “We tried to dig out as we thought we cannot only wait for authorities to get us,” the coach said. They managed to dig about four meters (roughly 13 feet). One of the boys commented that they had been digging when the rescuers finally reached them.

The coach also described the moment they got stuck. The team had gone to explore the caves after soccer practice, and on their way back out noticed the water rising. Although nearly all the boys could swim, the coach decided that the exit was too risky. So he took the boys deeper into the cave, assuming that if they waited until the morning the water level would drop enough to make it safe for them to cross.

However, the water continued to rise.

The team had no food with them, and "drank water that fell from the rocks," according to one of the team members, 16-year-old Pornchai Kamluang. “On the first day we were OK but after two days we started feeling tired.”

The youngest member of the team, Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, is only 11. “I had no strength. I tried not to think about food so I didn’t get more hungry,” he told reporters.

The coach also revealed that when the rescuers asked for volunteers to make the trip back outside, “no one rushed to get out of the cave because we were so close to one another”.

What else?

The coach and three members of the team are ethnic minorities currently considered stateless by the Thai government. Now the paperwork has been submitted to officially recognize them as Thai citizens. One of the stateless boys, Adul Sam-on, speaks English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin, and Wa (the traditional language of his ethnic group), served as a translator for rescuers.

The boys and their coach are grateful for the sacrifice of the Thai Navy Seal, Saman Kunan, who died trying to save them. They've all pledged to become Buddhist monks in his honor. If they do follow this route, the boys will become novices until they turn 20, when they can be ordained as monks. Their coach used to be a monk himself, until he left to take care of his grandmother.

One last thing…
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