The first footage of 12 Thai soccer players after their rescue from a flooded cave this week shows the boys waving and flashing victory signs as they continue down their road to recovery.
A clip released by Thailand’s Incident Command Press Centre on Wednesday shows the boys in a Chiang Rai city hospital ward, wearing green surgical masks and tucked under white blankets, as they recover from their 18-day ordeal in a waterlogged cave. The teammates appear to be in relatively good health and spirits, waving and flashing two-finger victory signs at the camera.
Thai health officials said the boys and their coach survived by drinking water dripping inside the Tham Luang cave, the Associated Press reports. The boys, on average, lost around four pounds each, the AP says.
“To not receive food, we can still survive for many months but what’s necessary is water, which the cave has, and around this time there’s a lot in the cave, and they chose clean water to drink,” public health inspector Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong said at a press conference.
The boys, all between the ages of 11 and 16, are currently being kept largely in isolation to prevent infections from outsiders, AP reports, but most presented with few serious health conditions; some are beginning to eat solid food and walk around. A few of the boys have been treated for lung infections, and most were given antibiotics to combat low white blood cell counts, CBS News reports. They are set to undergo in-depth mental health evaluations, but CBS reports that they are showing few signs of stress.
The last four boys and their coach were rescued just hours before a water pump malfunction caused the cave to flood, according to CBS News. Had they waited any longer, rescuers say, the mission might not have been successful.
“I think we can all be proud,” Master Sgt. Derek Anderson said during a Today show appearance Wednesday. “Those boys are heroes. They were extremely brave to have to go through something like this. I’m really glad that everybody, at the end of the day, can walk away with a smile, to include the rescuers, the families and the boys.”