After an emotionally turbulent 18-day ordeal, all 12 of the Thai boys who were trapped in an elaborate cave system with their assistant coach have been rescued and brought to safety.
The boys, who are all members of the Wild Boars soccer team, had been exploring the Tham Luang caves in Thailand with their 25-year-old soccer coach when rising water levels trapped them inside of the caverns. As the tunnels continued to flood, the group was forced further and further inside the system until they had traveled 2 and a half miles into the caves.
For nine days, the boys and their coach were stranded without food before they were finally located by rescuers. The intricacy of the tunnel system, however, made rescuing the group far more difficult.
In addition to 40 Thai scuba divers being called in for the extraction mission, over 50 international divers flew in to Thailand to offer their assistance. Since each boy was weakened by their physical conditions and none of them had very much diving experience, they were each escorted out by a team of two divers – one in front of each boy, and one behind.
Though the boy was connected to the divers via a length of safety line, the inlets often became so narrow that the rescuers would have to remove their own oxygen tanks so they could maneuver them separately through the tunnels.
Eight of the boys were rescued on Sunday and Monday. The last four youngsters and their coach were rescued today after a 9-hour extraction mission. Once the last of the rescue divers had resurfaced from the cave a little while later, along with the doctor who so bravely looked after the kids for the last nine days, the world breathed a sigh of relief.
According to CBS News, local government officials, volunteers, spectators, and journalists all erupted in cheers once they heard news of the boys’ successful rescue.
“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 wrote on Facebook. “Everyone is safe.”
The soccer members were rushed to a hospital in Chiang Mei city where they are now recovering from their ordeal. While two of the boys have been diagnosed with slight lung infections and possible signs of pneumonia, most of the youngsters are in good spirits and relatively good health.
The team had originally been invited to the World Cup Final, but due to their weakened state, they will be required to stay in the hospital during the coming week – although, the boys’ favorite team, Manchester United, have invited them to stop by for one of their games next season.
(WATCH some of the news coverage below)
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