Navy divers along with an international team rescued 12 boys and their football coach from flooded caves, 17 days after they got trapped underground in Thailand
The plight of the group and the dangerous work to free them has gripped the world’s attention. The first of the boys were brought out on Sunday but the last of the group were only freed on Tuesday evening, BBC reported.
They had got stuck deep inside the cave on 23 June after heavy rains caused flooding and cut off their route out.
Aged between about 11 and 17, the members of the Wild Boars football team had entered the cave system in the province of Chiang Rai during an excursion with their coach. The final five members rescued join eight team members taken to hospital on Sunday and Monday and said to be doing well.
A rescue doctor and three Navy Seals who stayed with the group are still to emerge
One former Navy diver, Petty Officer Saman Gunan, died last week carrying oxygen in the cave ahead of the rescue
Petty Officer Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy diver in his late thirties, died on 6 July while helping to re-supply the cave with new air tanks. He ran out oxygen and lost consciousness.
“I really loved him,” his wife Waleeporn Gunan told BBC Thai. “Every day before he left for work, we said we loved each other. At midday, we’d text to see if the other had had lunch. I want to tell you honey, you are the hero in my heart, you always were and always will be.”
Confirming the completion of the rescue operation, the Thai Navy Seals Facebook page announced: “All 12 Wild Boars and coach have been extracted from the cave. All are safe.”
A team of 90 expert divers – 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas – worked in the caves. They guided the boys and their coach through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the Tham Luang cave system.
Getting to and from the trapped group was an exhausting round trip, even for experienced divers. The process included a mixture of walking, wading, climbing and diving along guide ropes. Wearing full-face masks, which are easier for novice divers than traditional respirators, each boy was accompanied by two divers, who also carried his air supply. The toughest part was about halfway out at a section named “T-Junction”, which was so tight that the divers had to take off their air tanks to get through. Beyond that a cavern – called Chamber 3 – was turned into a forward base for the divers.
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