In Thailand, a Tearful Reunion Through Glass

'Everybody started to cry,' says father of rescued boy
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2018 10:05 AM CDT
Family members view the rescued boys through a window outside the recovery ward at the Chiang Rai hospital in Thailand on Wednesday.   (Thailand Government Spokesman Bureau via AP)
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(Newser) – "It's like a rebirth." That's how a father is viewing his 11-year-old son's rescue as part of a soccer team pulled by divers from a flooded cave in Thailand. "Everybody started to cry," he adds of the moment Wednesday when family members were reunited at a hospital with some of the 12 boys last seen on June 23, per CNN. There was no touching allowed, however. Relatives have been forced to view the first boys rescued from the cave from behind glass, and communicate via phone, to prevent infection. Three of the boys have minor cases of pneumonia, though a doctor says most will be released in about a week. Still undergoing tests, the third and final group to emerge Tuesday, four boys and their coach, have yet to be reunited with family, but they were able to send letters out of the cave with divers, per the BBC, which has details on each of the boys.

Despite losing an average of 4.4 pounds each during their time inside the cave—the 11- to 16-year-olds (though the BBC has one boy listed as 17) consumed only murky water in the first nine days before they were found —the boys are in "good condition," Health Ministry Inspector Tongchai Lertvirairatanapong said Wednesday. "I have to praise the coach who took care of the footballers very well," Lertvirairatanapong added. A former monk, 25-year-old Ekkapol Ake Chantawong reportedly taught the boys meditation techniques to keep them calm. The rescue commander also commended diver Richard Harris. The last person to exit the cave system, he soon after learned his father had died. "We want to send our condolences to him and I do have to thank him a lot," Narongsak Osotthanakorn said, per CNN. "Without him, in this operation, I don't think we could have succeeded." (Read more Thailand stories.)

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