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British diver reveals how Tham Luang 13 were saved by their smell

The twelve boys and their football coach who were trapped deep inside the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai were found “by their smell”, according to one of the British divers who were the first to find the stranded group.

In an interview with the BBC, diver John Volanthen revealed the moment he found the boys alive and said they could smell the children before they could see them.

“It’s been mentioned by some members of the press it was luck, I would say that’s absolute not the case, Mr Volanthen said.

“Our procedure in this situation is we’re swimming along an underwater passage wherever there is air space we surface we shout and also we smell and in this case we smelled children before we actually saw them .

“The video you see is again a part of the story what you can’t see on the opposite bank is we’d already removed a lot of our equipment we were preparing to go and find them, we could see where they were and we were very pleased trying to establish how many of them were alright and as it turned out all of them were.”

At an earlier press conference, Richard Stanton who was diving with Mr Volanthen had denied the pair were heroes.

“We were just using a very unique skill set, which we normally use for our own interests and sometimes we are able to use that and give something back to the community.”

Describing the moment he found the group of 13, Mr Stanton said: “We were counting them until we got to 13… unbelievable. We gave them a bit of extra light, they still had light, they looked in good health. Then when we departed, all we could think about was how we would get them out.”

Speaking of the rescue mission itself, he said: “This was completely unprecedented, nothing like this has been done. So of course there were doubts.

“We had a good team, with good support from the Thai authorities, the caving community and rescue organisations, so we had the best we could do to make a plan work.”

Mr Stanton was speaking as the group of British divers arrived back at Heathrow Airport in London on Friday.

Other British divers who also arrived back in the UK included Chris Jewell and Connor Roe, both from Somerset; Josh Bratchley, from Devon; Mike Clayton, from Yorkshire; Gary Mitchell, from Wales and Jim Warny from Co Clare, Ireland.

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