Rescue Saves All 12 Boys, Coach From Cave in Thailand

Rescuers walk toward the entrance to a cave complex where five were still trapped, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The eight boys were rescued from the flooded cave. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

MAE SAI, Thailand — A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in Thailand has saved the 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending an 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world.

Thailand’s Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue effort, said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely today.

Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of 18 Thai and international divers on Sunday and Monday.

“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 said, referring to the name of the boys’ soccer team. “Everyone is safe.”

They said they were waiting for a medic and three SEALs who had stayed with the boys in their dark refuge deep inside the cave complex to come out.

Cheers erupted at a local government office where dozens of volunteers and journalists were awaiting news of whether the intricate and high-risk rescue mission had succeeded. Helicopters taking the boys to a hospital roared overhead.

Payap Maiming, 40, who helped provide food and necessities to rescue workers and journalists, said a “miracle” had happened.

“I’m happy for Thais all over the country, for the people of Mae Sai, and actually just everyone in the world because every news channel has presented this story and this is what we have been waiting for,” she said. “It’s really a miracle. It’s hope and faith that has brought us this success.”

The plight of the boys and their coach has captivated Thailand and much of the world. The huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers.

They were trapped in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave on June 23, when they were exploring it after a soccer practice and it became flooded by monsoon rains.

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