The head of the Thai Navy Seals has said “hope became reality” with the successful rescue of 12 boys and their coach from the Tham Luang cave.
“We had a little bit of hope that they might still be alive but we had to do it, we just had to move forward,” Rear Adm Arpakorn Yukongkaew told the BBC.
“There was only a tiny bit of hope, but that’s all we had to work with.”
The group was trapped in the cave by rising water and rescued in a dramatic operation that captivated the world.
They survived underground for 17 days by drinking water dripping down the cave walls, officials have said.
Authorities have been giving a health update after the rescue mission ended on Tuesday.
All 13 are now in hospital and are recovering well, health officials said.
They are receiving medical and psychological assistance.
All of them have lost weight and will have to remain in hospital for one week, then recuperate for another week at home.
Media reports over the past days suggested the boys had been sedated to keep them calm during the dangerous rescue operation.
But doctors said this wasn’t the case.
The complex, three-day operation saw four boys emerge on Sunday, four on Monday, and the final four boys plus their coach on Tuesday.
A team of expert divers guided the boys and their coach through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the cave system.