Moments after the mission was completed, Thailand’s navy SEALs – who played a central part in the rescue effort – wrote on their Facebook page We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what.
It had been the largest, most complex cave rescue in history.
Eight boys had been brought out in two expeditions on Sunday and Monday, leaving a further four and their football coach to make the perilous journey back to the entrance on Tuesday.
Just before 1pm UK time, it was announced that they were all safe.
We did something nobody thought possible, the acting governor of Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said once the 18-day ordeal was over.
I am so happy, I may not be able to thank everyone, the man who led the operation added.
Thailand cave rescue Country celebrates return of its children
Payap Maiming, who helped provide food and necessities for rescue workers and journalists, was not in doubt, however.
It’s really a miracle, she said. It’s hope and faith that has brought us this success.
Thailand cave How the rescue operation unfolded
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach are now being assessed in hospital.
There are concerns they may have consumed contaminated water, while bird or bat droppings could cause infections.
The four boys rescued first are well, they’re up and about, Sky News’ southeast Asia correspondent, Siobhan Robbins, said.
But two boys had suspected lung problems which are being investigated, she added.
The group is going to be kept in isolation for the next few days – possibly a week, she said.
While their parents have been able to visit them, they have been kept separate through the glass because doctors are concerned.
Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-o-cha, said the boys were given anti-anxiety medication to help with their rescue.
Cave diver Martyn Farr told Sky News that British divers, who located the trapped group, are the very best divers in this field in the UK, if not the world.
The conditions in Thailand were extreme, he said, adding If any people could execute this rescue successfully, it was our team of British divers.
This has been a full blown international call out and leading divers from all over the world have been involved.
This has been the largest, most complex cave rescue in history.
Amazing news that all of the Thai kids are out of the cave safely! I’d like to send out shirts to them! Is there anyone who can help with an address? @England pic.twitter.com/pQYwW4SPh7
President Trump tweeted his congratulations, describing the emergence of the last four boys and their coach as such a beautiful moment.
Theresa May said the world was watching and will be saluting the bravery of all those involved.
The Tham Luang cave system will now be closed for some time, prime minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said.
He has also pledged to increase security to make it safer, with a view to developing it into a tourist destination following its worldwide exposure.
News Source SkyNews