The 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave for more than two weeks have told how they tried to dig their way out before their “miracle” escape.
The youngsters and their football coach spoke for the first time about their ordeal as they appeared at a televised news conference in Chiang Rai.
The group revealed they survived without food for nine days and drank water from stalactites – rock formations that hang from the ceiling of caves – before they were eventually found by British divers.
They also spoke of feeling guilty about the death of a former Thai Navy SEAL during the rescue effort.
The boys were greeted by cheers and applause as they arrived at Chiang Rai’s provincial hall after being discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
They wore T-shirts emblazoned with a red graphic of a wild boar – the name of their team – and carried footballs that they also kicked gently.
Describing the moment they were found on 2 July, 14-year-old Adul Sam-on said he was shocked to discover the divers were British.
“It was magical,” he said.
“After they came up from the surface of the water, I was shocked. They were English.
“They asked ‘how many of you’. I said ’13’ and they said ‘brilliant’.
“It’s just a miracle that happened.”
The group had planned to explore the Tham Luang cave complex for about an hour after football practice on 23 June.
But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.
“We took turns digging at the cave walls,” coach Ekkapol Chantawong, 25, said.
“We didn’t want to wait around until authorities found us.”
One boy said he believed he would be “scolded” by his mother after realising they were trapped.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t go home,” he said.
The boys, aged 11 to 16, said they played draughts to pass the time and a game called “king of the cave”.
Many of the youngsters said they wanted to apologise to their parents because they had not told them they were going to the cave.
Asked about their future aspirations, most of the boys said they wanted to be professional footballers when they grow up, while a handful said they want to be Navy SEALs.
They also paid tribute to Samarn Kunan, the former Thai navy diver who died while he placed oxygen tanks along a potential exit route.
“Everyone was very sad,” Ekkapol said.
“(The boys) felt like they were the reason he had to die and his family had to suffer.”
The boys had gained 3kg (6.6lb) of weight each on average since the rescue and took part in confidence-building exercises ahead of Wednesday’s event.
Journalists’ questions were carefully-vetted and screened by psychologists before the news conference.
A government official asked the boys’ privacy to be respected as they returned home after the event.