Remaining 4 Thai Boys and their Soccer Coach Rescued from Flooded Cave this Morning

Steven Agar |
Thailand, cave rescue, trapped soccer team, cave
Divers managed to take blankets and supplies to the boys whilst they figured out the best rescue strategy. Credit: CNN

The last remaining member of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach were pulled out of a flooded cave in Thailand this morning, bringing to an end the almost three-week ordeal that gripped the whole world.

“The 12 Wild Boars and coach have emerged from the cave and they are safe,” the Thai navy Seal unit said on its official Facebook page. It added: “Hooyah.”

Thai, cave, soccer team, trapped underground
The location of the caves. Credit: BBC

The twelfth boy and his coach were the last of the team to be rescued Tuesday, after a complicated three-day operation to extricate the team, who became trapped on June 23 when rising floodwater cut off the exit, deep inside the cave. A small number of Navy SEALs, including a doctor who stayed with the team for a week after their discovery, remain in the cave system and are expected to emerge shortly.

“Waiting for four more Thai Navy SEALs (to come out of the cave) who have been accompanying the kids. Please send your support to them,” says a post their official Facebook site.

On Saturday, June 23, the group of 12 boys between the ages of 11 and 16 went with their soccer coach to explore a cave in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system. As they entered, the rain picked up, and the rising water trapped them inside. The group of 13 was missing for nine days before they were discovered by two British divers. In the last 18 days, what began as a local search for the missing 13 turned into a complex international rescue operation, involving hundreds of experts who flew in from around the world to help.

People in Thailand and around the world rejoiced when the group was found, but then came another problem: how to get them out. Some sections of the cave were fully submerged in water and the journey seemed treacherous for the boys, aged 11 to 16, many of whom couldn’t swim, let alone dive through deep, murky water in the pitch black. As the threat of more rains that could further flood the cave loomed, a rescue mission to get the team, whose nickname is the Wild Boars, out of the cave began in earnest on Sunday morning. At least 13 specialist divers and five Thai Navy SEALS were sent in escort the boys and their coach out.

Thailand, cave rescue, trapped soccer team, cave
Rescuers walk towards the cave for their final mission this morning. Credit: CNN

On Sunday, four boys were saved, and after a pause on Sunday evening, a second phase of the mission commenced to attempt to rescue the others. Four more were rescued Monday, and the mission resumed Tuesday morning when the final four boys and their coach were brought out of the cave. Nineteen divers entered the cave at 10 am local time Tuesday (8 pm Monday PST), many on their third mission in three days, with the aim of bringing everyone inside the cave out. Tuesday’s rescue took nine hours in total, from the time the divers entered the cave to bring out the boys and their coach along the 2.5-mile underground system.

Thailand, cave rescue, trapped soccer team, cave
The body of Saman Kunan, the former Thai NavySEAL who died trying to rescue the boys. Credit: CNN

Only the doctor who has been caring for them since they were first discovered last Monday and three Thai Navy Seals involved in the rescue operation remain inside the cave. The boys are in good overall health, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

Having first been reached by British divers, the boys have pledged allegiance to the England soccer team, currently in the semi-final of the World Cup in Russia. FIFA did offer the boys tickets to the World Cup Final on Sunday, every young soccer player’s dream, but unfortunately they will not be healthy enough to travel and have had to decline the offer.

Bizarrely, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk flew to Thailand to attempt to help the Thai cave rescue mission, which attracted both praise and criticism. The SpaceX and Tesla chief posted on social media that he had visited the operation’s command center, where he said he had left a mini-submarine that had been designed to carry a trapped football team to safety.

The head of the rescue mission thanked Mr. Musk for his offer but said the sub could not be used:

“The equipment they brought to help us is not practical with our mission,” Narongsak Osotthanakorn explained. “Even though their equipment is technologically sophisticated, it doesn’t fit with our mission to go in the cave.”

I’m surprised he managed to be able to make his submarine quickly enough.

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