All 12 boys, coach rescued from flooded Thai cave

Ekkapol Chantawong and an aunt one of the few remaining relatives he had after an epidemic made him an orphan aged 10

A Thai military evacuation helicopter near a cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.

After pondering for days how to get the 13 out, a rescue operation was launched on Sunday when four of the boys were brought out, tethered to rescue divers.

The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach became stranded when they went exploring inside after a practice game.

The eight boys brought out by divers on Sunday and Monday were doing well and were in good spirits, a senior health official said Tuesday. Monsoon flooding blocked their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

An ambulance taking a rescued boy heads for a local hospital on Monday in Chang Rai, Thailand.

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English Premier League side Manchester United have invited the Wild Boars football team, like the Chilean miners rescued in 2010, to visit Old Trafford following their dramatic rescue on Tuesday.

The 12th member of the team was brought out of the cave complex on a stretcher only about eight hours after officials announced Tuesday's 3rd phase of the rescue operation.

The dozen players - aged 11 to 16 - and the coach had already received an invitation from Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino last week to attend the World Cup final on Sunday in Moscow - although after their traumatic experience they may not be up to the trip physically or mentally.

Celebrations will be tinged with sadness over the loss of a former Thai navy diver who died last Friday while on a re-supply mission inside the cave in support of the rescue.

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