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Thai Soccer Boys Return Home After Cave Rescue: Heartwarming Photos

Football | Associated Press | July 20, 2018, 10:25 am
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 Duangpet Promtep and his mother Thanaporn Promthep smile during an interview at their home, in Mae Sai, the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 19, 2018. (Image: Reuters)

Duangpet Promtep and his mother Thanaporn Promthep smile during an interview at their home, in Mae Sai, the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 19, 2018. (Image: Reuters)

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 Duangpet Promtep shows his Buddhist wrist strings during an interview at his home, in Mae Sai, the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

Duangpet Promtep shows his Buddhist wrist strings during an interview at his home, in Mae Sai, the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

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 Duangpet Promtep and his mother Thanaporn Promthep smile during an interview at their home, in Mae Sai, the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

Duangpet Promtep and his mother Thanaporn Promthep smile during an interview at their home, in Mae Sai, the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

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 Relatives of Duangpetch Promtep, one of the boys rescued from the flooded cave in northern Thailand, greet him as he arrives home in the Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Relatives of Duangpetch Promtep, one of the boys rescued from the flooded cave in northern Thailand, greet him as he arrives home in the Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Soccer coach Ekkapol Janthawong and members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand on July 19, 2018. The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from a cave in northern Thailand left the hospital where they had been recuperating and appeared at a news conference Wednesday, saying the ordeal made them stronger and taught them not to live carelessly. (Image: AP)

Soccer coach Ekkapol Janthawong and members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand on July 19, 2018. The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from a cave in northern Thailand left the hospital where they had been recuperating and appeared at a news conference Wednesday, saying the ordeal made them stronger and taught them not to live carelessly. (Image: AP)

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 Members of the rescued soccer team attended a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Thailand. (Image: AP)

Members of the rescued soccer team attended a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Thai Buddhist monks pray for members of rescued soccer team and their soccer coach during a Buddhist ceremony in Thailand. (Image: AP)

Thai Buddhist monks pray for members of rescued soccer team and their soccer coach during a Buddhist ceremony in Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Coach Ekkapol Janthawong and members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony in Thailand. (Image: AP)

Coach Ekkapol Janthawong and members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony in Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Coach Ekkapol Janthawong and members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Coach Ekkapol Janthawong and members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Thailand. (Image: AP)

Members of the rescued soccer team attend a Buddhist ceremony that is believed to extend the lives of its attendees as well as ridding them of dangers and misfortunes in Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Members of the rescued soccer team pray their respect and thanks in front of a portrait of Saman Gunan, the retired Thai SEAL diver who died during their rescue attempt, in Mae Sai district, Thailand. (Image: AP)

Members of the rescued soccer team pray their respect and thanks in front of a portrait of Saman Gunan, the retired Thai SEAL diver who died during their rescue attempt, in Mae Sai district, Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 The last helicopter from Tham Luang cave lands at a military airport in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018. Rescue workers in Thailand rescue a 12-member soccer squad and their coach trapped for more than two weeks in a labyrinthine flooded cave complex. (Image: Reuters)

The last helicopter from Tham Luang cave lands at a military airport in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018. Rescue workers in Thailand rescue a 12-member soccer squad and their coach trapped for more than two weeks in a labyrinthine flooded cave complex. (Image: Reuters)

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 The last ambulance leaves from Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

The last ambulance leaves from Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

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 Peoples celebrate after evacuation in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated some of the 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Peoples celebrate after evacuation in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated some of the 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Thai media celebrate after evacuation in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated some of the 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Thai media celebrate after evacuation in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated some of the 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 An emergency team rushes to a helicopter believed to be carrying the last rescued boy from the flooded cave in Mae Sai from Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks. (Image: AP)

An emergency team rushes to a helicopter believed to be carrying the last rescued boy from the flooded cave in Mae Sai from Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks. (Image: AP)

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 Volunteers celebrate near Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

Volunteers celebrate near Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

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 A helicopter believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys from the flooded cave lands in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated the remaining boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

A helicopter believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys from the flooded cave lands in Chiang Rai as divers evacuated the remaining boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Divers have begun the third phase of the rescue of a youth soccer team trapped for more than two weeks in a flooded cave in northern Thailand and aim to bring out the last four boys and their coach, the top rescue official said. (Image: AP)

Divers have begun the third phase of the rescue of a youth soccer team trapped for more than two weeks in a flooded cave in northern Thailand and aim to bring out the last four boys and their coach, the top rescue official said. (Image: AP)

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 This photo tweeted by Elon Musk shows efforts underway to rescue trapped members of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in northern Thailand. Musk tweeted early Tuesday, July 10, 2018, he has visited the cave and has left a mini-submarine there for future use. (Image: AP)

This photo tweeted by Elon Musk shows efforts underway to rescue trapped members of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in northern Thailand. Musk tweeted early Tuesday, July 10, 2018, he has visited the cave and has left a mini-submarine there for future use. (Image: AP)

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 Vehicles are stopped at a checkpoint near the entrance to a cave complex where five were still trapped, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: AP)

Vehicles are stopped at a checkpoint near the entrance to a cave complex where five were still trapped, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Thailand's Navy SEALs said on their Facebook page that

Thailand's Navy SEALs said on their Facebook page that "the 9th Wild Boar was out of the cave at 4:06 p.m.," referring to the name of the soccer team they are all members of. (Image: AP)

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 Doctors were being cautious because of the infection risk and were isolating the boys in the hospital. (Image: AP)

Doctors were being cautious because of the infection risk and were isolating the boys in the hospital. (Image: AP)

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 Chiang Rai Gov.Narongsak Osatanakorn said Tuesday's rescue operation began just after 10 a.m. and involves 19 divers. A medic and three Thai Navy SEALs who have stayed with the boys on a small, dry shelf deep in the flooded cave will also come out, he said. (Image: AP)

Chiang Rai Gov.Narongsak Osatanakorn said Tuesday's rescue operation began just after 10 a.m. and involves 19 divers. A medic and three Thai Navy SEALs who have stayed with the boys on a small, dry shelf deep in the flooded cave will also come out, he said. (Image: AP)

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 Helicopters wait near the cave for more evacuations of the boys and their soccer coach who have been trapped since June 23. (ImageL AP)

Helicopters wait near the cave for more evacuations of the boys and their soccer coach who have been trapped since June 23. (ImageL AP)

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 Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions, which took up to 11 hours. (Image: AP)

Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions, which took up to 11 hours. (Image: AP)

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 Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass isolation barrier, and Jesada said doctors may let the boys walk around their beds. (Image: AP)

Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass isolation barrier, and Jesada said doctors may let the boys walk around their beds. (Image: AP)

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 Four ambulances and a convoy of other vehicles arrived at the cave site Tuesday (July 10) morning to prepare for the third phase of the rescue. Heavy rains in the morning cleared during the day, leaving the teams operating outside the cave in stifling heat. (Image: AP)

Four ambulances and a convoy of other vehicles arrived at the cave site Tuesday (July 10) morning to prepare for the third phase of the rescue. Heavy rains in the morning cleared during the day, leaving the teams operating outside the cave in stifling heat. (Image: AP)

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 A helicopter waits near the cave for more evacuations of the boys and their soccer coach who have been trapped since June 23. (Image: AP)

A helicopter waits near the cave for more evacuations of the boys and their soccer coach who have been trapped since June 23. (Image: AP)

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 Emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boy to be transported by ambulance to a hospital, in Mae Sai,in the district of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: AP)

Emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boy to be transported by ambulance to a hospital, in Mae Sai,in the district of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boy to be transported by ambulance to a hospital, in Mae Sai,in the district of Chiang Rai, Thailand on July 8, 2018. Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks, as a dangerous and complicated plan unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground. (Image: AP)

Emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boy to be transported by ambulance to a hospital, in Mae Sai,in the district of Chiang Rai, Thailand on July 8, 2018. Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks, as a dangerous and complicated plan unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground. (Image: AP)

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 Emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boy to be transported by ambulance to a hospital, in Mae Sai, in the district of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: AP)

Emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boy to be transported by ambulance to a hospital, in Mae Sai, in the district of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 One of two ambulances leaves the cave in northern Thailand hours after the operation began to rescue the trapped youth soccer players and their coach, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand on July 8, 2018. (Image: AP)

One of two ambulances leaves the cave in northern Thailand hours after the operation began to rescue the trapped youth soccer players and their coach, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand on July 8, 2018. (Image: AP)

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 Ambulances are seen outside the Tham Luang cave complex after Thailand's government instructed members of the media to move out urgently, in the northern province of Chiang Rai,Thailand, July 8, 2018. (Image: Reuters)

Ambulances are seen outside the Tham Luang cave complex after Thailand's government instructed members of the media to move out urgently, in the northern province of Chiang Rai,Thailand, July 8, 2018. (Image: Reuters)

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 Thai rescue teams arrange water pumping system at the entrance to a flooded cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Thai rescue teams arrange water pumping system at the entrance to a flooded cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Thai soldiers drag a water pipe to bypass water from entering a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand on July 7, 2018. (Image: AP)

Thai soldiers drag a water pipe to bypass water from entering a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand on July 7, 2018. (Image: AP)

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 Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Thai divers gather before they enter to the Tham Luang cave, where 12 boys and their soccer coach are trapped, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

Thai divers gather before they enter to the Tham Luang cave, where 12 boys and their soccer coach are trapped, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Image: Reuters)

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 However, heavy rains forecast may complicate plans to safely extract them. (Image: AP)

However, heavy rains forecast may complicate plans to safely extract them. (Image: AP)

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 The 12 boys and their coach are seen sitting with Thai navy SEALs in the dark cave with their visibly skinny faces illuminated by the beam of a flashlight. (Image: AP)

The 12 boys and their coach are seen sitting with Thai navy SEALs in the dark cave with their visibly skinny faces illuminated by the beam of a flashlight. (Image: AP)

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 The Thai soccer teammates stranded more than a week in a partly flooded cave said they were healthy on a video released. (Image: AP)

The Thai soccer teammates stranded more than a week in a partly flooded cave said they were healthy on a video released. (Image: AP)

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 The boys, many wrapped in foil warming blankets, take turns introducing themselves, folding their hands together in a traditional greeting and saying their names and that they are healthy. (Image: AP)

The boys, many wrapped in foil warming blankets, take turns introducing themselves, folding their hands together in a traditional greeting and saying their names and that they are healthy. (Image: AP)

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 Thai soccer team players and their coach were found in a partially flooded cave, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand. The 12 boys and coach found after 10 days are mostly in stable medical condition and have received high-protein liquid food, officials said. (Image: AP)

Thai soccer team players and their coach were found in a partially flooded cave, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand. The 12 boys and coach found after 10 days are mostly in stable medical condition and have received high-protein liquid food, officials said. (Image: AP)

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 Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Earlier efforts to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach, who has been missing inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand, hinge on pumping out water so that navy divers have room to operate, the first high-level Thai official to visit the site said. (Image: AP)

Earlier efforts to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach, who has been missing inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand, hinge on pumping out water so that navy divers have room to operate, the first high-level Thai official to visit the site said. (Image: AP)

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 Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda told reporters that navy SEAL divers leading the search are seriously handicapped by muddy water that has filled some chambers of the large cave to the ceilings. (Image: AP)

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda told reporters that navy SEAL divers leading the search are seriously handicapped by muddy water that has filled some chambers of the large cave to the ceilings. (Image: AP)

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 He said the divers can proceed only when enough water is pumped out so there is space between the water and the ceiling to make it safer to work. (Image: AP)

He said the divers can proceed only when enough water is pumped out so there is space between the water and the ceiling to make it safer to work. (Image: AP)

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 The divers will also soon start using special oxygen tanks that provide longer diving times, he said. (Image: AP)

The divers will also soon start using special oxygen tanks that provide longer diving times, he said. (Image: AP)

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 A SEAL diver said the water is so murky that even with lights they cannot see where they are going underwater, so they need to be able to lift their heads above the water. (Image: AP)

A SEAL diver said the water is so murky that even with lights they cannot see where they are going underwater, so they need to be able to lift their heads above the water. (Image: AP)

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 Anupong said rescuers would be working night and day in the dark cave. (Image: AP)

Anupong said rescuers would be working night and day in the dark cave. (Image: AP)

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 Divers have been seeking a way forward through the chambers of the cave complex, but have been forced to suspend their search several times. (Image: AP)

Divers have been seeking a way forward through the chambers of the cave complex, but have been forced to suspend their search several times. (Image: AP)

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 The authorities are also seeking alternative ways in, using helicopters and search parties on foot to find possible holes in the ceilings of other parts of the cave. (Image: AP)

The authorities are also seeking alternative ways in, using helicopters and search parties on foot to find possible holes in the ceilings of other parts of the cave. (Image: AP)

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 A small glimmer of hope was dashed after explorers found two fissures in the rock on the mountain in which the cave is located. (Image: AP)

A small glimmer of hope was dashed after explorers found two fissures in the rock on the mountain in which the cave is located. (Image: AP)

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 After evaluation, experts found neither could be used as a

After evaluation, experts found neither could be used as a "chimney" to gain access to the cave. (Image: AP)

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 Rain that fell overnight increased the difficulty of exploring inside the cave. (Image: AP)

Rain that fell overnight increased the difficulty of exploring inside the cave. (Image: AP)

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 The boys and their 25-year-old coach entered the cave in Chiang Rai province late Saturday (June 23) afternoon. (Image: AP)

The boys and their 25-year-old coach entered the cave in Chiang Rai province late Saturday (June 23) afternoon. (Image: AP)

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 A mother reported that her son did not return from soccer practice that day, setting off the search. (Image: AP)

A mother reported that her son did not return from soccer practice that day, setting off the search. (Image: AP)

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 Relatives of the missing boys and others performed a ritual calling for those who are missing. (Image: AP)

Relatives of the missing boys and others performed a ritual calling for those who are missing. (Image: AP)

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 One of relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach prays for their rescue after going missing in Tham Luang Nang Non cave. (Image: AP)

One of relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach prays for their rescue after going missing in Tham Luang Nang Non cave. (Image: AP)

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 Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray at a shrine for their rescue after going missing in a large cave. (Image: AP)

Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray at a shrine for their rescue after going missing in a large cave. (Image: AP)

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 The British Cave Rescue Council members arrive at cave in the staging area as they continue the search for a young soccer team and their coach believed to be missing in a large cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

The British Cave Rescue Council members arrive at cave in the staging area as they continue the search for a young soccer team and their coach believed to be missing in a large cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray for their rescue after going missing in a large cave. (Image: AP)

Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray for their rescue after going missing in a large cave. (Image: AP)

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 Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray at a shrine for their rescue after going missing in a large cave. (Image: AP)

Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray at a shrine for their rescue after going missing in a large cave. (Image: AP)

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 Emergency rescue teams gather in the staging area as they continue the search for 12 young soccer team members and their coach after going missing in a large cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Emergency rescue teams gather in the staging area as they continue the search for 12 young soccer team members and their coach after going missing in a large cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Prayer offerings are displayed as rescue workers continue the search for the young soccer team and their coach that went missing in a cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

Prayer offerings are displayed as rescue workers continue the search for the young soccer team and their coach that went missing in a cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Image: AP)

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 Rescue workers bring in large hoses and additional water pumps to continue the search for a young soccer team and their coach believed to be missing in a large flooded cave. (Image: AP)

Rescue workers bring in large hoses and additional water pumps to continue the search for a young soccer team and their coach believed to be missing in a large flooded cave. (Image: AP)

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 Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach who went missing in a cave, pray for their rescue. (Image: AP)

Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach who went missing in a cave, pray for their rescue. (Image: AP)

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