After two intense, exhausting back-to-back rescue operations, eight members of the Wild Boars soccer team have been freed from the Tham Luang cave complex in Thailand. Four of the boys were rescued on Sunday, while an additional four were rescued on Monday; four others and their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, remain in the caves.
Those who have made it to safety were immediately flown by helicopter to a hospital in nearby Chiang Rai, where they will be kept in isolation while their physical conditions are monitored. As one might imagine, their thoughts have already turned to food: According to The Guardian, the first four boys who were rescued asked if they could have pad krapow, a favorite fried Thai dish made with basil.
Meanwhile, the boys’ friends and classmates are just waiting for news that everyone is safe—and they’re already making lunch plans. Poowadet Khamngern, a 14-year-old who is also a member of the Wild Boars team, told USA TODAY that they’ll all be “going to eat fried chicken at KFC” when they’re reunited. “When my friends are back, we will do everything as normal,” Waranchit Kankaew, another 14-year-old Wild Boar said. “We will go to lunch together, we will play football together.”
Shortly before the rescue operations began, the Thai Navy SEALs posted a few letters the trapped boys had written to their family members. “Dad, Mom don't worry about me," 11-year-old Chanin Viboonrungruang wrote. "I am fine. Please tell [my aunt] to take me to eat fried chicken. Love you all.” (The boy’s dad told CNN that his aunt had promised to take him to KFC.) “We really want to go out and eat so many types of food,” the boys wrote in a group letter.
Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the rescue operation’s joint command center, held a press conference late on Monday. “The kids [released on Sunday] are now very fine,” he said. “If you ask whether they have eaten Kow Pad Krapow—no. They haven’t eaten that, but they can take normal food like diluted porridge.”
That’s a start. Now, the world must keep all its fingers crossed that all 12 boys and their coach will be reunited on dry land, and served all of the pad krapow, KFC, and “many types of food” they could ever possibly want.