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Thai youth soccer team meets with the media

CHIANG RAI, THAILAND— The 12 boys and their soccer coach who were rescued from a cave in northern Thailand have appeared at a news conference, entering to applause from the media and classmates.

The boys put on a quick demonstration of their ball-handling skills in a special miniature soccer field set up in the hall where they are meeting the media on Wednesday.

They then hugged their friends before taking seats up front with doctors and others who helped them during their ordeal.

Doctors took the first two questions, and said the 13 were healthy in body and mind. Doctors said the boys gained around 6.6 pounds on average since they were rescued from the cave last week. They were said to have lost an average of 9 pounds during the more than two weeks they were trapped in the cave.

The news conference was the first opportunity the members of the team had to speak directly to the media, though video of them was released previously. Officials were reviewing questions in advance to make certain none might cause damaging psychological effects.

The Wild Boars teammates had entered the Tham Luang cave on June 23 for a quick, relaxing excursion after soccer practice. But rain began falling while they were underground, and the water filled the caverns, cutting off their escape.

Divers found the group huddling on a spot of dry ground deep inside the cave 10 days later, hungry but generally healthy. An international team of rescuers using diving equipment and pulleys extracted the 12 boys and coach through the tight, flooded passageways over three days, concluding July 10.

Some of the boys were treated for minor infections during their hospital stay, but all 13 have been described as recovering well.

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