The 12 boys and their coach rescued from a Thai cave mourned the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who died while taking part in the mission, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

The “Wild Boars” football team are recovering in hospital following 18 days spent inside the Tham Luang cave after entering on June 23 and getting trapped by monsoon floodwaters. Doctors say they are in good health following a successful three-day operation which ended on July 10.

But the lead-up to the final phase of the mission was met with tragedy when volunteer and former Navy SEAL diver Saman Kunan died on July 6 while installing oxygen tanks along the twisting passageways of the cave.

The boys were only told about Saman’s death on Saturday after a medical team said they were strong enough mentally to handle the news. Many wept after hearing it. “All cried and expressed their condolences by writing messages on a drawing of Lieutenant Commander Saman and observed one minute of silence for him,” Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Health Ministry, said in the statement. “They also thanked him and promised to be good boys.”

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