Bringing the ordeal of a football team which was trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand for 17 days to an end, the Thai Navy SEALs along with a team of elite foreign divers rescued all the 12 boys and their coach on Tuesday. Also Read - 'Cave Survivors' Thailand Football Team Visits Argentina's River Plate Club
In an astonishing against-all-odds rescue mission that grabbed the world’s attention, the rescuers evacuated the final batch of four boys, aged between 11 and 16 years, along with their 25-year-old coach. Also Read - Boys Rescued From Thai Cave Make First Public Appearance, Express Gratitude to Rescue Workers
“All 12 ‘Wild Boars’ and coach have been extracted from the cave,” the SEALs said in a Facebook post, referring to the boys by the name of their football team. Also Read - Elon Musk Forced to Say Sorry For 'Pedo' Remark
“All are safe,” they added, then signed off with what has become their trademark “Hooyah” that they used to celebrate the successful extractions of the other eight boys over the previous two days.
The final day of the operation began just after 10 a.m. on Tuesday as the first eight boys, freed in operations on Sunday and Monday, recuperated at a hospital in nearest Chiang Rai city.
The 12 young footballers, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach got trapped on June 23 while exploring the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai province after soccer practice and a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnel.
The boys were found inside the cave by British rescue divers a week ago, about 4 km from the cave mouth.
Thirteen foreign cave diving experts and five Thai Navy rescuers joined the first operation on Sunday that brought out four boys from the cave. Rescuers spent about 11 hours on the mission. Another four boys were brought out by the same team on Monday.
The remaining four boys and their coach were rescued on Tuesday and were sent to hospital by helicopters. They underwent X-rays and blood tests and will remain under observation in the hospital for at least seven days.
The news was greeted by global jubilation and the rescue workers were lauded. US President Donald Trump tweeted “great job” and British Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The world was watching and will be saluting the bravery of all those involved.”
Overnight, entrepreneur Elon Musk posted on social media that he had personally delivered a child-sized submarine to the site which he had developed to assist with the operation, but it was unlikely to play a role.
In response, Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the operation, said: “Although his technology is good and sophisticated, it’s not practical for this mission.”
According to AFP, amid the continuously lowering oxygen levels and monsoon rains threatening to flood the cave above the ledge, rescuers decided to opt for the least-worst option of having divers escort them through the tunnels.
During the rescue operations, a former Thai Navy SEAL diver died after he ran out of oxygen in a flooded area of the cave on Friday while trying to prepare the escape route.
Now that the boys and their coach are out, medical experts are now focusing on their mental and physical fitness.
They have warned that drinking contaminated water during the 17-day-long ordeal or otherwise being exposed to bird or bat droppings in the cave could to lead to severe infections.
They also said that the rescued boys will need counselling to overcome the psychological trauma.
Medical chiefs reported this morning that the eight boys rescued on Sunday and Monday were in relatively good mental and physical conditions.
“All eight are in good health, no fever… Everyone is in a good mental state,” Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, said before all 13 had been rescued.
Nevertheless, the boys would remain in quarantine in hospital until doctors were sure they had not contracted any infections from inside the cave.