Expert divers from the Thai Navy SEALs, experienced in conventional diving situations, were faced with an unprecedented challenge.
"Suddenly the Australian guy who was overseeing that area started shouting that the water pump had stopped working", Chaiyananta told AFP.
"By the time the last diver was out the water was already at head level, nearly to the point where he needed an oxygen tank".
Samarn Kunan, 38, a former member of the elite navy SEALs unit, was the only casualty in a multinational operation to save the boys and their coach after monsoon rains trapped them in the cave they were exploring in northern Thailand.
Thailand's junta chief told reporters on Tuesday that the group had been given a "minor tranquiliser" to help calm their nerves. On Tuesday authorities said some of the boys had asked to eat bread with chocolate spread, but mostly they'll be given a food similar to milk which is rich in proteins and nutrients.
"We just needed them to know how to breathe and not panic in the water", he said.
It also involved about 90 divers in all, 50 of them from overseas, as well as medics, ambulance drivers, and helicopter pilots to take the boys straight to hospital in the town of Chiang Rai.
The rescue was fraught with danger, a point underscored last Friday (June 6) by the death of a retired Thai Navy SEAL diver as he ran out of air in the flooded cave complex.
She added: "I'd like to thank everybody for all their teamwork to get the lads out, it is absolutely lovely". In the video, Volanthen is heard talking to the group, telling them at the time that they had been in the cave for 10 days and that many rescuers were coming to save them.
Wearing hospital masks and gowns, and waving to family members through protective glass, the freed Thai soccer players were finally able to have a reunion, of sorts.
An American involved in the operation described the perilous zero-visibility dives that brought the boys out safely as a "once in a lifetime rescue".
Experts say the divers brought a variety of skills, including the ability to install guide lines that help in low visibility, and previous experience in worldwide operations.
Meanwhile, hero Australian doctor Richard "Harry" Harris has been praised for his efforts in the rescue, labelled an "inspiration" by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Officials plan an interactive museum at the Tham Luang cave based on the historic rescue mission that will feature items such as clothing that key rescuers wore during the operation, Narongsak said.
The story was a rollercoaster, with nearly every twist and turn imaginable.
They were lost for nine days before British rescue divers discovered them on July 2, sitting on a ledge in a half-flooded chamber.
Samarn, an emergency rescue worker at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport after he left the SEALs in 2006, joined the cave rescue operation on July 1.