Terrific news. All twelve boys and their coach have been rescued in Thailand after more than two weeks trapped in flooded caves. An international coalition of divers led by Thailand SEAL’s and rescuers from over 50 countries were able to rescue the remaining boys earlier today.
MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) — A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand has saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced diver and riveted people around the world.
Thailand’s Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue effort, said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely by early Tuesday evening. Several hours later, a medic and three SEAL divers who had stayed for days with the boys in their tiny refuge in the cave also came out.
Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of Thai and international divers on Sunday and Monday.
“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave,” the SEALs said, referring to the name of the boys’ soccer team. “Everyone is safe.”
Cheers erupted at a local government office where dozens of volunteers and journalists were awaiting news of whether the intricate and high-risk rescue mission had succeeded. Helicopters transporting the boys roared overhead. People on the street cheered and clapped when ambulances ferrying them on the last leg of their journey from the cave arrived at a hospital in Chiang Rai city. (read more)
The plight of the boys and their coach has captivated not only Thailand, but much of the world — from the heart-sinking news that they were missing, to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers. They were trapped in the Tham Luang cave on June 23, when they were exploring it after a soccer practice and it became flooded by monsoon rains.
Each of the boys, ages 11 to 16 and with no diving experience, was guided out by a pair of divers in three days of intricate and high-stakes operations. The route, in some places just a crawl space, had oxygen canisters positioned at regular intervals to refresh each team’s air supply.
Highlighting the dangers, a former Thai navy SEAL died Friday while replenishing the canisters.
Cave-diving experts had warned it was potentially too risky to dive the youngsters out.
But Thai officials, acutely aware that the boys could be trapped for months by monsoon rains that would swell waters in the cave system, seized a window of opportunity provided by relatively mild weather. A massive water pumping effort also made the winding cave more navigable. The confidence of the diving team, and expertise specific to the cave, grew after its first successful mission.
“We did something nobody thought possible,” Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, leader of the rescue effort, said at a celebratory news conference.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, speaking Tuesday before the final rescue was completed, said the boys were given an anti-anxiety medication to help with their perilous removal from the cave. (More)
We also send prayers to the family of the lone Thai SEAL, Sgt. Saman Gunan, who was killed during the preliminary stages of the highly dangerous rescue mission. His name shall live on in the annals of heroism.