The young football players rescued from a flooded cave complex in Thailand have visited a Buddhist temple to pray for protection from misfortunes.
Eleven of the boys and their 25-year-old coach spent their first day back with their families at the Wat Pra That Doi Wao temple on Thailand’s northern border with Myanmar.
One of the Wild Boar boys, Adul Sargon, was not present as he is not Buddhist.
The team has said they would ordain as Buddhist novices in honour of the former Thai navy SEAL diver, Saman Gunan, who died while making preparations for their rescue.
Coach Ekkapol Chanthawong said he was “impressed” with Gunan’s sacrifice which allowed the 13 children to live their lives outside the cave “happily and normally”.
The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach spoke to the media for the first time on Wednesday after being released from hospital.
They spoke of the moment they saw the two British divers who first spotted them after they went missing in the cave, describing it as a “miracle”.
Fourteen-year-old Adul said: “We weren’t sure if it was for real.”
“So we stopped and listened. And it turned out to be true. I was shocked.”
The group revealed that they had survived without food for nine days and drank water from stalactites, and had even tried to dig their way out of the cave.
They became trapped after planning to explore the cave complex for an hour after football practice on 23 June, when heavy monsoon rain started to fall and flooded the tunnels.
A rescue operation which drafted in divers and experts from around the world lasted nearly three weeks.
Many of the young boys said they wanted to apologise to their parents as they had not told them they were going to explore the cave.
They also expressed guilt over the death of the navy SEAL diver, as coach Ekkapol said “everyone was very sad” and the boys “felt like they were the reason he had to die and his family had to suffer”.
Some of the boys said they would want to become navy SEALs when they grow up so they could help others.