CHIANG RAI, Thailand -- "Thank you, thank you, thank you." Those were the first words heard from the boys found by two British divers 10 days after they went missing inside an intricate cave system in northern Thailand. "Brilliant," one of the British rescuers responded as the boys confirmed that all 13 team members were present and accounted for, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.
Still in their soccer uniforms and huddled together just above flood waters, the boys asked for food, and then they wanted to know when they can go home.
"Not today. Not today," the divers told them.
For the boys' parents waiting above ground, the news of their safety ended days of waiting and praying. The 12 boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach disappeared on June 23 after soccer practice. Their bikes and cleats were found just outside the caves. They apparently went in to explore and became trapped by flooding caused by heavy rain.
Now that rescuers have found the boys alive and in good condition, they are giving them high protein liquid food and antibiotics.
The Tham Luang Nang Non cave system stretches about six miles into a mountain. More than 1,000 first responders from around the world searched for 10 days. They had to go about two and a half miles from the cave system's entrance – through passages obstructed by thick mud and high water – just to find the group. They were located near a chamber known as Pattaya Beach, which has a higher elevation.
Capt. Jessica Tait with the U.S. Air Force was one of 35 Americans who helped in the rescue effort.
"Everyone is coming together to figure out the next course of action and how to bring them out as safely and as quickly as possible," Tait said.
Rescuers raced to pump out water from the cave Tuesday, as heavy rain is the forecast for the rest of the week. Thailand's rainy season lasts until October, and the cave is regularly flooded.
"It is not a hundred percent secure," the governor said Tuesday. "So I cannot give an answer to confirm how many days the kids will have to stay in the cave."
A Thai Navy SEAL team will make the final call on how they get the boys out. One option is to teach them to dive with special breathing masks. But the murky water is difficult to navigate even for experienced divers. There is low visibility in the caves and the floodwater can move fast.
One of the rescuer workers also said none of the boys know how to swim. The other option is to keep the boys in the cave until the water levels recede, which many experts say is the best option. But that means the boys could be in the cave for weeks if not months.