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Thailand cave rescue: the boys lost weight, but otherwise healthy

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Thai students smile as they hold pictures of 12 boys and a fooball coach at a school in front of hospital where the rescued boys have been brought for observation in Chiang Rai on July 11, 2018. The boys spent 18 harrowing days trapped deep inside, completing an astonishing against-the-odds rescue mission that captivated the world. AFP

CHIANG RAI (Reuters) – Most of the boys rescued from a Thai cave on Tuesday lost an average of 2kg during their ordeal but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, a senior health official said yesterday.

Rescuers freed the last four of 12 Thai boys and their football coach from deep inside the flooded cave on Tuesday, a successful end to a perilous mission that gripped the world for more than two weeks.

“From our assessment, they are in good condition and not stressed. Most of the boys lost an average of 2 kilograms,” Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, an inspector for Thailand’s health department, told reporters.

The boys said they had not seen any bats or other animals inside the cave, but doctors would keep watching for any indications of infectious disease.

Samples have been sent for lab tests at Chulalongkorn Hospital Bangkok, with results expected within two days.

Medical officials are concerned that the boys could have been exposed to a variety of infections, including diseases carried by bats, a fungal infection sometimes called “cave disease”, or the bacterial disease leptospirosis, which can be transmitted through water.

At least two boys have been treated for pneumonia.

Dr Ananya Sinrachatanant, a psychiatrist from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the mental health of all survivors remains fragile as they have just survived a traumatic event of being trapped inside the flooded cave for more than two weeks.

She urged everyone to give them private space with their families and refrain from asking them about what happened while they were stranded in the cave, or worse, blame them for their actions.

She asked that the media and members of the public respect the privacy and rights of the survivors and not distribute fake news, or take part in social media bullying.

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