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'I want to hug him': Father relieved after son is freed

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 11/07/2018 9NEWS

a man looking at the camera: Adisak Wongsukchan prayed for 17 days that his 14-year-old son would come out of the cave alive. Picture: CNN © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Adisak Wongsukchan prayed for 17 days that his 14-year-old son would come out of the cave alive. Picture: CNN Adisak Wongsukchan prayed for 17 days that his 14-year-old son would come out of the Tham Luang caves alive. 

His son, Akarat, was trapped inside with his 11 teammates, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old soccer coach.

Each day was excruciating for Mr Wongsukchan as he worried about how his son would survive without light, food or water.

But a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders when Akarat was rescued on Tuesday.

Speaking exclusively to CNN from the Thailand cave complex, Mr Wongsukchan said he was "so happy and appreciative" of the international rescue effort that helped to free his son and the Wild Boars soccer team.

a group of people posing for a picture: The lucky 13 have all been freed over a three-day rescue operation. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd The lucky 13 have all been freed over a three-day rescue operation.

“I want to hug him and I want to tell him that I'm happy," Mr Wongsukchan told CNN.

“Because of the king's benevolence, no matter whether it's the police or the army they all came and I'm so happy and I don't know what else to say, I'm just happy.”

More than 100 specialists and thousands of support staff were involved in the rescue mission during the weeks the team were trapped inside.

The operation started when the missing 13 team members became trapped when rising floodwater cut them off deep inside the cave on June 23.

a group of people posing for the camera: This reaction sums up how the world was feeling when all members of the group were rescued. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd This reaction sums up how the world was feeling when all members of the group were rescued. a man riding on the back of a truck: Royal Thai police ambulance evacuates a cave trapped boy to hospital after he was rescued from the Tham Luang cave. Picture: EPA © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Royal Thai police ambulance evacuates a cave trapped boy to hospital after he was rescued from the Tham Luang cave. Picture: EPA

However, the rescue turned into a complex international operation, eventually involving experts from around the world including Australia to assist the local medical team.

Yesterday, the final four boys and their coach were rescued as part of the complicated three-day effort to extricate the team.

Mr Wongsukchan said his son was rescued on Monday and taken to hospital in Chiang Rai but he wanted to wait with the families of the remaining team members due to the agonising final moments.

a man wearing a uniform and holding wine glasses: 'Thai Navy SEALs came out safely. Hooyah Hooyah Hooyah,' the group posted on Facebook. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd 'Thai Navy SEALs came out safely. Hooyah Hooyah Hooyah,' the group posted on Facebook.

The boys are still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week for tests.

"I promised the other parents, the five, I will wait and come out together. I'm not going to leave them. We're going to go together," Mr Wongsukchan said.

The boys and coach were also transported to the nearby hospital, where they joined eight of their teammates who are recuperating after being rescued on Sunday and Monday.

Medics are due to give an update on the condition of the team and rescuers at a media briefing this morning (local time).

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