Rising waters, no air: How Thai cave rescue nearly went wrong

12 July, 2018, 11:36 | Author: Dominic Spencer
  • Four Thai navy SEALs give a thumbs up as they leave the cave

The footage, released by Thai officials Wednesday, shows eight of the boys sitting up in their hospital beds, clad in hospital gowns and face masks.

Each member of the Wild Boars football team and their coach have been rescued after spending 17 days stuck in a complex cave system.

None of the 12 boys had ever been diving and some did not know how to swim.

Highlighting the dangers, a former Thai navy SEAL volunteering to work on the rescue effort died Saturday while replenishing oxygen canisters that were placed along the escape route. "Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers...[as if] groggy, but they were breathing", Navy SEAL Chaiyananta Peeranarong, who helped with the rescue, told the news agency. "I don't have any details about when they were being transferred from the cave", he said. They survived the nine days before they were found by drinking water dripping from the cave walls, officials said.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha thanked people involved in the rescue in a televised address on Wednesday and said the mission had succeeded because of government efforts, the assistance of people within and outside Thailand and an outpouring of moral support.

The last of the group was finally extracted on Tuesday after a painstaking and unsafe worldwide rescue mission led by Thai Navy SEALs.

Then, with the final divers slowly exiting the cave on Tuesday, the pumps suddenly failed pushing the water level up towards head height in a previously wadeable section of the cave. "Be good people, be a force for good for your country", Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew, commander of Thailand's navy SEALS unit, said in a message to the boys before boarding a flight from Chiang Rai. "They have to help each other".


The rescue mission which spanned days was a success after everyone was rescued.

Despite the ordeal, the boys seem to be in fairly good shape, according to Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, an inspector for Thailand's health department.

The four boys and soccer coach brought out Tuesday on the final day of an all-out three-day push to save all of them had recovered more quickly than the boys rescued on Sunday and Monday, Chaiwetch said.

The saga of the "Wild Boars" gripped the world, with the lives of the group hanging in the balance as the threat of heavy rain injected urgency to an already perilous extraction bid.

Closer to home, Chiang Rai locals rejoiced at the odds-upsetting rescue bid.

"FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation and we will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a Federation Internationale de Football Association event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration".

"We will sing a song for him", she said.

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