CHIANG RAI, Thailand—An incredible international rescue effort has paid off, freeing all 12 youths and the coach of the Wild Boar soccer team who were trapped in a flooded Thai cave for weeks!
“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the 13 Wild Boars are now out of the cave,” the Thai Navy SEALs announced on their Facebook page Tuesday, July 10.
Back on June 23, the team made the mistake of exploring the sprawling Tham Luang cave network in Northern Thailand during the monsoon season. The tunnels extend into the mountain for miles, and the Wild Boars had made it halfway (2 ½ miles into the cave) when they became trapped on a muddy ledge. Heavy rains completely filled cave tunnels.
“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the 13 Wild Boars are now out of the cave,” ~ Thai Navy SEALs
On Day 10 of the team’s ordeal, a pair of British cave divers, two of the best in the world, located the stranded players, ranging in age from 11–16, and their 25-year-old coach.
Three Thai Navy SEAL divers and a medic arrived to care for the team, which needed food, fresh water, survival blankets and medical attention. Getting the weakened players and coach out safely required hundreds of rescue workers. Jagged rocks were jackhammered out; powerful pumps ran constantly to lower the water levels, and divers lugged in heavy tanks filled with compressed air along the perilous route out.
Sadly, a retired Thai SEAL who volunteered to help, died after delivering air tanks for the team.
The team got to write and receive letters while they waited to get out. “Mom and dad, don’t worry about me. I am fine,” a player wrote.
The boys were understandably hungry. “We want to eat many foods and go straight home.” Another player asked his teacher to go easy on the homework.
The coach sent his letter of apology addressed to the players’ parents.
But with heavy monsoon rains expected and oxy-gen levels inside dropping, the rescue commander gave the order to get the team out. The first four went July 8. Each boy wore a full-face diving mask and was escorted by two Thai SEAL divers with the lead diver carrying the boy’s air tank. The second group went the next day and the remaining four and the coach made their escape on July 10. All are recovering at the same hospital. Mission accomplished!