Asia-Pacific

Hero Australian divers thank Thai boys and coach

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Two Australian divers who were instrumental in the rescue of 12 Thai boys and their coach from a flooded cave system have thanked them for their trust.

Two Australians who helped rescue 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave system say they were “humbled” after playing critical roles in the operation.

In a statement, Dr Richard "Harry" Harris and his dive partner Craig Challen said the successful rescue was “almost beyond our imagination”.

 “We are humbled to have been able to provide our expertise and experience to assist in this international operation led by the Thai government,” they said.

Australian doctor Richard Harris (right) with his dive partner
Australian doctor Richard Harris (right) with his dive partner Craig Challen
AAP

“Our thanks and greatest admiration go the British lead divers, and support divers along the route in and out of the cave system from the EU, US, China and Australia, as well as the vast number of participants from military and civilian organisations in various support roles.

 “We particularly would like to thank the players and their coach for placing their trust in us. We wish them a speedy recovery,” they said.

Richard Harris has assisted the Thai rescue efforts.
Richard Harris has assisted the Thai rescue efforts.
AAP

There were 20 Australians who took part in the rescue, but Dr Harris' efforts have received particular praise from acting Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotanakorn.

 "(The Australians) have been a big help, especially the doctor," he told 9NEWS.

 "Very good. The best – not good – the very best."

The 53-year-old Dr Harris was also singled out by the Australian government, with a joint statement from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Defence Minister Marise Payne and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton praising him.

Dr Harris was the medic who made the call for the team to be swum out after assessing them last week.

Authorities were exploring multiple options to get the 13 Thais out, including tunnelling in or providing them with enough supplies to wait out the monsoon season.

However, limited air and the likelihood of more heavy rain saw the timeline step up.

The Australian doctor made the challenging swim through the extensive network of flooded tunnels to ensure the children – none of whom had any dive training – were physically up to the 1.7km trek out.

He also administered a sedative to the boys to calm them for the epic exit.

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