THE hero Brit diver who found 12 Thai boys trapped in a flooded cave has today admitted he had his doubts over the “unprecedented” rescue mission.
Rick Stanton, from Coventry, spoke of his relief at finding the lads alive after they had been in the dark tunnel network in Chiang Rai for over a week.
Rick Stanton, centre left, discussed his fears over the dangerous rescue operation at Heathrow Airport today
Speaking to reporters at Heathrow Airport, the brave diver said his initial elation of discovering the Wild Boar football team and their coach was quickly “tempered with uncertainty.”
He said: “Initially of course (I felt) excitement, relief that they were still alive.
“As we were coming down the slope we were counting them – and we got to 13…unbelievable.
“We gave them some extra light. They still had light. They looked in good health.
“But of course when we departed all we could think of was how we were going to get them out.
“So there was relief tempered with uncertainty.”
Dan Charity – The Sun Rick said his initial happiness at discovering the lads alive and well was ‘tempered with uncertainty’
Reuters Members of the British Cave Rescue Council at Heathrow Airport
Rick was joined at the news conference by other members of the British Cave Rescue Council who were at the “forefront of the rescue effort”.
Asked about the difficulty of the mission, the experienced cave diver admitted that the extraction process was “too detailed” to explain at such short notice.
However, Rick did admit that the rescue team did have doubts over whether the boys would survive the operation.
He said: “This is completely uncharted unprecedented territory – nothing likes this has been done. So of course there were doubts.
“But I knew we had a good team with good support from the Thai authorities and the national caving community and recue organisations.
Dan Charity – The Sun Rick found the trapped boys along with fellow British diver John Volanthen, left.
“So we had the best that we could do to make a plan work.”
Rick found the youth football team along with fellow British cave diver John Volanthen, 47.
The boys were soon joined by Australian doctor Richard Harris, known as Harry, who spent days with the youngsters checking them over and reassuring them before their dramatic evacuation.
And John said that Dr Harris’ Aussie accent helped calm the children during the terrifying ordeal.
He said: “Dr Harry, the Australian doctor, he’s very good, he’s got a very good bedside manner, he’s got a very bouncy Australian accent, and they seemed to find that quite relaxing and reassuring.”
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