'We didn't expect all 13 to survive' - diver at heart of Thai cave rescue

One of the Australian divers involved in the rescue of 12 boys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand has revealed he didn't think they would all survive the journey out.

Craig Challen spoke to the media in his home town of Perth on Friday, explaining the high stakes situation and how when he initially arrived in Thailand, he believed it would be a recovery mission rather than a rescue one.

Nonetheless, all 12 boys of the Wild Boar's football team and their coach were rescued from the cave.

Returning to his home town, the retired vet and cave diver says the mission was extremely dangerous for the boys involved.

"It was absolutely life and death. We didn't expect to be getting 13 people out of there alive," Perth Now reported Mr Challen as saying.

There were points of the mission where the rain was so heavy it looked as if the team would have to remain in the cave for months, which Mr Challen believes they wouldn't have been able to survive.

Doctor Richard Harris
Doctor Richard Harris Photo credit: AAP

When they were finally rescued, the boys were so heavily medicated they didn't know what was going on.

Another Australian member of the rescue team, Doctor Richard Harris, told the Daily Mail that it was an amazing experience to be involved in.

"Some moments of significant fear, I have to say - and then a great result and some really joyous moments to finish, making some true friends and colleagues," he said.

He also took to Facebook for an extensive moment of reflection on the incident.

An Australian petition has been made in their name for the Australian pair to be awarded the Cross of Valour, an award for civilian bravery.

Newshub.