The 12 members of the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach who were trapped in a cave together for two weeks are giving a news conference on Wednesday, as they prepare to return to their homes from a hospital in northern Thailand.

The boys looked to be in good health as they approached the news conference, smiling as they walked and wearing matching green and white jerseys bearing a wild boar — the team mascot of their academy.

They then went to the front of the crowd, where they kicked a soccer ball around for a moment before they were reunited with classmates who had not gone on the cave adventure with them.

Asked what the moment was like when they finally were found in the cave — and they got their first sign of hope, one the boys told the media that they heard a noise, but, he added, "We were not sure if it was a hallucination."

When they realized it was real, he said, "We were startled."

Using a flashlight, one or two boys went to the edge of the water, yelling "Hello."

A man then emerged from the water — British diver John Volanthen — who said hello to the boys. The boys were surprised he wasn't Thai, and they struggled to communicate in English. But then the man asked how many had survived in the cave — and after hearing there were 13 people, the diver replied, "Brilliant."

The news conference did not feature back-and-forth discussions; instead, journalists submitted questions for the team submitted their questions in advance, according to the Thai Public Broadcasting Service.

A translator at the event — which was timed to air as a segment of the Thailand Moving Forward show, on a government channel, said that the boys have been declared physically and emotionally ready to return to society.

The boys and their coach were rescued over the course of three days last week, ending an ordeal that began on June 23, when the cave they were exploring flooded during a sudden heavy rain. They were trapped more than a mile from the main entrance, and rescue divers had to navigate tight passages to retrieve them.

The miraculous rescue came after meticulous planning and teamwork among Thai and international emergency workers and divers. During the work to stash air tanks along the escape route, a former Thai navy SEAL diver died. He has since been hailed as a hero who sacrificed himself for the boys' safety.

"We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave," the Thai navy SEALs team said on its Facebook page when the rescue was finally complete.

The boys' plight spurred prayers and vigils in Thailand, and their saga also transfixed people around the world. Hours before Wednesday's news conference was to begin, journalists began pouring into the venue — a building that houses offices of the Chiang Rai provincial government.

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