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Thailand cave rescue: Meditation led by coach helped boys survive terrifying ordeal, family say

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 10-07-2018 Alexandra Richards
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(Video by Fox News)

The 12 Thai boys and their football coach who were trapped in a cave in Thailand got through the ordeal by practising meditation, family members have said.

According to a mother of one of the boys, the team were meditating in the widely shared video of their discovery by two British divers.

“Look at how calm they were sitting there waiting. No one was crying or anything. It was astonishing,” she told the Associated Press.

a group of people posing for the camera © Provided by Independent Print Limited

The coach who was rescued from the cave on Tuesday, trained as a Buddhist monk for 12 years before he decided to coach the Wild Boars soccer team.

“He could meditate up to an hour,” said his aunt, Tham Chanthawong. “It has definitely helped him and probably helps the boys to stay calm.”

The coach and 12 school boys became trapped in the Tham Luang Cave complex after it flooded on June 23.

In pics: The dramatic Thai cave rescue mission

The team were then left trapped in the cave for more than two weeks before they were led to safety by rescue divers.

According to experts the experience of remaining in the cave is likely to have taken a mental toll on the school boys.

Paul Auerbach, of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University’s medical school told the Washington Post: “It’s very likely that while the boys were in the cave but not yet discovered by rescuers that they experienced various degrees of anxiety, fear, confusion, vulnerability and dependency, and perhaps hopelessness.”

The rescued boys continue to be monitored in hospital.

a group of people posing for the camera: thairescue0807.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited thairescue0807.jpg

Thailand’s Department of Mental Health said hospital staff will continue monitor the boys’ mental health after they have been rescued.

“Their re-entry into the world outside the cave will predictably be one of massive attention from family, friends and the media,” Professor Auerbach said, noting it could be overwhelming. “The world soon loses interest and moves on to the next story, so it is extremely important that these survivors not be forgotten and be closely monitored so that they can receive the best possible support.”

According to officials, the rescued boys appear to be in high spirits however doctors are taking a cautious approach to their recovery.

a group of people looking at a cell phone: thairescue0807-0.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited thairescue0807-0.jpg

At a news conference, Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food, though they can not yet take the spicy dishes favoured by many Thais.

Two of the boys possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally "healthy and smiling," he said on Tuesday morning ahead of the final day of the rescue mission when the remaining boys were saved.

a group of people riding a motorcycle down a dirt road © Provided by Independent Print Limited

"The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems," Jedsada said. "Everyone is in high spirits and are happy to get out. But we will have a psychiatrist to evaluate them."

It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, Jedsada told a news conference.

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