How hero doctor's Aussie accent played surprise role in Thai cave rescue

The pumps inside the cave failed shortly after the last boy emerged

The pumps inside the cave failed shortly after the last boy emerged

The rescue gripped the world, with much praise focusing on the navy SEALs and global team of divers who helped them, toiling for days in unsafe conditions to get the boys out.

The Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in Thailand - where 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped for 18 days - will become a "living museum" to showcase the harrowing ordeal that unfolded in recent weeks as the world watched.

Now, the boys are in the hospital where new video shows them sitting up in their beds.

They were found after nine days, but it took a further week to bring them out safely, and one of the rescue team - a professional diver from Thailand - died in the process.

Beaming with joy but holding back tears of relief the parents flock towards Rick Stanton, John Volathen and other members of the British potholer team who led the "mission impossible" at Tham Luang. "My job was to transfer them along", former Navy Seal Chaiyananta Peeranarong told the AFP news agency.

"Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers".

Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, said the boys lost an average of 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) while they were trapped.

But the mission, which leaned on the expertise of elite foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs, almost turned into a calamity. He's got a very bouncy Australian accent and they [the rescued boys] seemed to find that quite relaxing and reassuring. Seasonal monsoon rains flooded the vast cave complex unexpectedly and cut off their exit route.

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Then, with the final divers slowly exiting the cave on Tuesday, the pumps suddenly failed pushing the water level up towards head height in a previously wadeable section of the cave.

Mr Stanton admitted that made the task more hard. When divers reached them later, they brought additional food, water and blankets. "This mission was successful because of cooperation from everyone", he said.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, had to dive for part of their journey out before they were put on green plastic toboggan-like stretchers and carried, at times through steep, rocky tunnels, with ropes strung overhead.

The exact mechanics of the rescue bid were closely guarded during the operation, but details have since dribbled out. "We have to see whether they were born in Thailand and whether they have either a Thai father or mother".

"We will look for a way of securing citizenship for them", said Vitha Tachiboon, of Thailand's youth ministry.

Initial attempts to locate the boys were twice unsuccessful because the force of cold hypothermia-inducing floodwaters rushing into narrow passages made them unpassable.

But they were prodded into the unsafe task of bringing the team through submerged chambers and claustrophobic passages as oxygen levels in the cave plummeted and rains menaced.

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