The members of the "Wild Boars" team, aged 11-16, had no experience in scuba diving, and the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who had helped install oxygen tanks in preparation for the rescue underscored the dangers of the mission.
They spent nine harrowing days trapped in darkness until two British divers found them, looking gaunt but otherwise offering smiles to the divers and appearing to be in remarkably good spirits.
"The heroes this time are people all over the world", he added, referring to the multinational team that assisted in the operation.
They were celebrating a second day of stunning triumph after divers guided four more boys Monday through tight passages and dank flooded caverns to safety.
Eight boys had been brought out in two expeditions on Sunday and Monday, leaving a further four and their football coach to make the perilous journey back to the entrance on Tuesday.
Officials were not immediately available to comment on who had been brought out.
"All five will be brought out at the same time today", he said, to cheers from reporters and rescue.
Rescue teams plan third day of mission to free remaining members of Wild Boars soccer team; Jeff Paul reports from Thailand.
"FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation and we will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a Federation Internationale de Football Association event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration".
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For now the boys remain in quarantine but some of their parents have been able to see their children through the glass.
Concerns abounded that they could have resorted to contaminated water or been exposed to bird or bat droppings common in the cave. But the early signs were promising, with X-rays and blood tests showing just two had signs of pneumonia and that they were in a "normal state" after taking antibiotics, Jedsada said.
The chances of monsoon rains raising water in the cave again, endangering their dry refuge and making the escape route too risky, were never far from the minds of everyone involved.
"I hope today we will be faster or the same speed as yesterday", Narongsak said.
They got stuck when exploring the cave complex after soccer practice and a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.
The first eight boys rescued from a Thai cave are in decent physical and mental health with some even asking for chocolate, but they remain in hospital and under psychological observation for any lasting damage from their underground ordeal.
Due to fear of spreading disease, medical authorities are still not allowing the boys to have direct contact with their parents, who had to wear surgical robes and masks and were not allowed to hug their sons when visiting them in hospital.
Classmates of the trapped boys at Mae Sai Prasitsart school, close to the caves, pray after their teacher announced that more of the footballers had been rescued.
He wrote in a tweet posted this morning: "Mini-sub is ready if needed".
Musk said the submarine, which is made from the liquid oxygen tube of SpaceX's Falcon rocket, is small enough to fit through the cave system's narrow passageways. He said he left the equipment there in case rescuers could use it in the future.