MAE SAI, Thailand — The scrawny boys were huddled on the floor of the cave when the British divers emerged from the murky water.
As his light flickered from one boy to another, one diver called out, “How many of you?”
“Thirteen,” a boy answered.
“Brilliant,” the diver said.
After 10 days trapped in a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand, and after an enormous search effort that had transfixed Thailand, the missing 12 boys and their soccer coach had finally been found in Tham Luang Cave on Monday.
In a brief video filmed by another diver, which was posted on the Thai Navy Seal Facebook page, the boys and their coach seemed in surprisingly good condition. Some boys sat and some stood as they spoke with the rescuers.
Food was foremost on their minds. “Eat, eat, eat,” one of the boys can be heard saying in English.
The group had been the focus of a search-and-rescue operation ever since the boys and their coach went into the cave complex after soccer practice on June 23 and were caught inside by rising floodwaters. While the cave is a popular spot to visit, a sign outside warns that in the rainy months starting in July, it is unsafe to go inside.
The two British divers who were the first to reach the boys were John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, both experts on cave rescues, according to Bill Whitehouse, the vice chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council.
The next challenge will be getting the soccer team out of the flooded cave in their weakened condition and without training as scuba divers. The boys range in age from 11 to 16, and their coach is 25.
“I’d expect these children to be physically in fairly rough shape, and psychologically terrified,” said Dr. Eric Lavonas, an emergency physician and trained diving medicine specialist from Denver Health Medical Center and a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians.