News World Recovering Thai cave boys return to school

Recovering Thai cave boys return to school

Boys from the Wild Boars soccer team tour a photo exhibition of volunteers that helped them. Photo: AP
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A dozen boys rescued from a cave in northern Thailand have returned to school.

At Mae Sai Prasitsart School in Chiang Rai province where six of the boys attend, all of the 12 boys were given a warm welcome back to school in a ceremony marked with Buddhist prayers, Chiang Rai officials said on Monday.

Dressed in their respective school uniforms, the boys were also given team shirts of Germany’s Bayern Munich football club by a club representative.

A dramatic 19-day search and rescue mission for the group, a local youth football team, gained much attention, sympathy and admiration from around the world.

The Wild Boars pray to mark the end of their retreat as novice Buddhist monks at the Wat Phra That Doi Tung temple in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai. Photo: AFP/Getty

Many international football clubs have invited the group to come and see matches abroad following their dramatic rescue that involved an international team of scuba divers, including a contingent from Australia.

The group visited Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non Cave, 1000 kilometres north of Bangkok, on June 23.

They were trapped inside for more than two weeks after a flash flood blocked their only exit, leading to Thailand’s biggest-ever rescue operation.

After a successful rescue of all members of the group on July 10, the boys aged 11 to 16 recuperated at a nearby hospital for a week and then at home for another week.

Eleven boys, with an exception of 14-year-old Adul Sam-on who is a Christian, entered a nine-day monkhood as an act of gratitude for their rescue. They left the monastery on Saturday.

Their coach, 25-year-old Ekapol Chantawong, the only adult in the group trapped in the cave, is expected to remain a monk for three more months.

A museum is being constructed near the cave to commemorate the rescue.

Coach Ekapol Chantawong is surrounded by all 12 members of the team at Saturday’s ceremony. Photo: AFP/Getty