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11 Jul
  • By Drew Ganger

Soccer Team Rescued From Cave in Thailand

A Thai soccer team of 12 boys and their coach were rescued on Tuesday after being trapped in a cave for nearly 18 days. The team became trapped in the cave on June 23rd after a rainy season downpour flooded cave and cut off their exit. On July 2nd, over a week after the team became trapped, they were found nearly 2 kilometers inside the cave and 800m below the surface.

Rescuers struggled to devise a plan to save the boys aged 11-16 who were malnourished and some of whom couldn’t swim. Further difficulty came from low oxygen levels in the cave and monsoon rains that threatened to raise flooding even higher. The complex rescue mission took place over three days and involved hundreds of experts from around the world. Thai Navy SEALs and other professional divers had to navigate shallow, fast-moving waters, poor visibility, narrow passages and razor-sharp rocks. One former Thai SEAL was killed was killed in Friday, July 6th while placing oxygen tanks.

The rescue teams pumped water out of the caves and reduced the water level significantly but the risk of more downpours and flooding left rescuers with a 3-4 day window to extract the boys before rain intensified.

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To escape the cave each boy was given a diving mask and accompanied by two divers. The divers, aided by pre-placed ropes, carried the boys’ oxygen tanks and helped them through the narrow submerged passages. All the boys are now safe but are wearing sunglasses as a precaution to protect their eyes as they adjust to light and will stay in the hospital for at least 7 days to protect their weakened immune systems.

The huge international rescue effort included british divers who first found the team alive on July 2nd, teams of engineers, and Elon Musk who personally delivered a small submarine to help the effort, though the device was not used in the rescue. Narongsuk Keasub, a diver for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, told CNN that the thoughts of his own children had kept him going and “everybody has this feeling because we feel like it’s our children who are inside the cave.”

Thanks to the help of hundreds of international engineers, doctors, divers and other experts, the Thai military and other Thai rescue workers and the heartbreaking courage and sacrifice of Thai ex-navy diver Saman Kunan 12 boys and their coach get to return to their families. The success of this seemingly impossible rescue mission highlights the power of international cooperation and dedication to help those most in need.