How hero doctor's Aussie accent played surprise role in Thai cave rescue

Richard Harris a doctor from South Australia swam into the cave to determine if the boys were fit enough to make their arduous journey out of the cave

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Thailand said it had called on 13 "world class" divers to help with the unprecedented job, one of whom was Australian Richard "Harry" Harris, a diver and professional anaesthetist. The extensive search-and-rescue operation, which included more than 1,000 people from various nations, has now switched to a treatment process.

"[The Australians] have been a big help, especially the doctor", the leader of the rescue mission, acting Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotanakorn told an Australian Nine News reporter on Wednesday.

"Don't need to worry about their physical health and even more so for their mental health", said Chaiwetch Thanapaisal, director of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital. But as a whole, "everybody is doing well", Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, told reporters at Wednesday's news conference. "Everybody can now rest and do daily activities".

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Families of the 12 boys have been allowed to visit them.

At U-Tapao civil-military airport in Rayong province, near where the Royal Thai Navy operates out of Sattahip Naval Base, Thai navy SEALs and some foreign military personnel were given a hero's welcome when they touched down on Thursday. "They are the toughest blokes and kids I have ever had the privilege to meet". "The second group will do the same today". The third and final group, including the soccer team's 25-year-old coach, who were all evacuated Tuesday, are taking antibiotics and at least some had lung infections.

Richard Harris has assisted the Thai rescue efforts.

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Ms Bishop said the doctor is also known to authorities for his work on medical assistance teams in natural disasters in the Pacific region, and has taken part in Australian aid missions in Vanuatu.

Harris played a pivotal role in the rescue effort, positioned on the muddy bank in the cave with the boys and their coach, assessing their fitness for the perilous journey back to the outside. Seasonal monsoon rains flooded the vast cave complex unexpectedly and cut off their exit route. At other times, they endured dives lasting up to half an hour in the pitch-black waters.

One of them, John Volanthen, and another British diver, Jason Mallison, met before they departed with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who presented each of them with a souvenir medal, a polo shirt and a lacquered wooden box marked with an official emblem. "We have to admire the coach that he managed well in this situation".

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