CHIANG RAI • Thais reacted with relief, gratitude and exhilaration yesterday after the successful rescue of the remaining five members of a group of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave complex, ending a 17-day ordeal that gripped Thailand and the world.
"All Wild Boars saved," read the headline in the Bangkok Post.
"Hooyah! Mission accomplished," said The Nation, echoing the rallying cry of the Thai navy Seals involved in the rescue.
The hashtag #Hooyah was also hugely popular with Thai netizens wanting to show their support for the hundreds of rescuers, including divers from around the world, who helped to get the boys out.
The jubilation was tinged with sadness over the death of Mr Saman Gunan, the retired Thai navy Seal who died while trying to deliver oxygen to the boys last Friday. Images that have been circulating on social media include his portraits and illustrations.
Thai actress Araya Hargate shared a cartoon of the boys surrounded by rescuers on her Instagram page, which has 7.9 million followers.
"After all... the world is not such a bad place #humanityfaithrestored #thailandcaverescue," wrote the top actress, who is known as Chompoo in Thailand.
Despite spending 17 days in the dark, dank cave, health officials said the boys - who are aged 11 to 16 - and their 25-year-old coach are in good physical and mental health, and eating normal food. The group remains in quarantine in Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.
Yesterday, a few hundred Thai schoolchildren gathered opposite the hospital, chanting thanks to those who helped.
Elsewhere, student Duangduen Sittiwongsa, a classmate of one of the boys - 16-year-old Pheeraphat "Night" Sompiengjai - whose birthday fell on the day the team entered the cave, said he would be given cake and gifts when he returns to school. "We will sing a song for him," she said.
Mr Khamluh Guntawong, the grandfather of team assistant coach Ekkapol Chantawong, said: "I am very happy and relieved. I haven't been able to sleep for days. I am happy that the boys are out too."
In the town of Mae Sai, Mr Prayuth Jetiyanukarn, the abbot at the temple where Mr Ekkapol works, was overjoyed.
"I am so happy, but it is not just for Ek and the team," he said.
"The whole world has been watching over these 17 days, and they are celebrating with us."
The abbot started crying as he said: "Because Ek is an orphan, I feel like his father. And Ek felt responsible for the 12 Wild Boars, so I felt like I had 13 worries on my shoulders.
"It was 17 days, but it felt like years."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES
World leaders and football stars joined the global outpouring of relief and congratulations on the astounding rescue of a young football team and their coach from a flooded Thai cave.
Here are some of the reactions:
BEAUTIFUL MOMENT, GREAT JOB
On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the Thai navy Seals and all on the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from the treacherous cave in Thailand. Such a beautiful moment - all freed, great job!
U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
SALUTE TO THE BRAVE
Delighted to see the successful rescue of those trapped in the caves in Thailand. The world was watching and will be saluting the bravery of all those involved.
BRITISH PREMIER THERESA MAY
OUTSTANDING RESCUE TEAM
Great news that they made it out safely. Congratulations to an outstanding rescue team!
TECH GURU ELON MUSK, who visited the cave and offered the use of a prototype mini-submarine made from rocket parts.
STRENGTH OF HEROES
This victory goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong.
FRENCH WORLD CUP STAR PAUL POGBA, dedicating France's World Cup semi-final 1-0 win against Belgium to the 12 boys, who are nicknamed the Wild Boars after the academy they train with.
MAN U TREAT AWAITS
We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford (club grounds) this coming season.
SO MUCH TO ADMIRE
What wonderful news from #Thailand! So much to admire: The perseverance of the brave boys and their coach, the skill and determination of the rescuers.
MR STEFFEN SEIBERT, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman.
A HAPPY ENDING
Relieved with the happy outcome... Congratulations to the brave rescuers, including several Belgian divers.
BELGIUM FOREIGN MINISTER DIDIER REYNDERS