THE young footballers rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand lost weight during their 18-day ordeal but are in good health, a health official has said.

The 12 boys and their coach - rescued over three days - “took care of themselves well in the cave”, public health inspector Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong said at the hospital in Chiang Rai where the group is recovering.

Thongchai said one member of the final group of boys and the coach who arrived at the hospital on Tuesday evening had a slight lung infection. Two of the first group had a lung infection as well, and he said they would need medicine for seven days.

The average weight loss was four pounds for those with known information, he added.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha thanked people involved in the rescue, saying the government’s efforts, the assistance of people in Thailand and abroad, and the outpouring of moral support made the mission a success.

He acknowledged the loss of Saman Kunan, a former Thai navy diver who died volunteering on the rescue, adding: “His honour, sacrifice and legacy will forever be in our hearts.”

The boys are in isolation in hospital to prevent infections by outsiders, but family members have seen some of them from behind a glass screen, and after a period of time, they will be allowed closer while dressed in sterilised clothing.