One Boy Takes On Key Role During Thailand Cave Rescue

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The wife of a former Thai navy diver who died working to rescue a young soccer team trapped for days in a flooded cave said on Thursday she missed him dearly and urged the boys not to blame themselves for his death. The other five on the team were Thai navy SEAL divers.

Derek Anderson, a 32-year-old rescue specialist with the U.S. Air Force based in Okinawa, Japan, said the dozen boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16, and their coach, who were trapped for more than two weeks before being rescued this week, were "incredibly resilient".

Much of the rescue team was still inside the cave when the main pump failed, triggering a flood of water.

Each boy was accompanied underwater by two divers carrying their oxygen tanks for them, and guiding them through the murky tunnels.

Thailand's junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday said the boys were given a "minor tranquiliser" to keep them calm.

"We were pleased and very relieved that they were alive", Volanthen said.

But as a whole, "everybody is doing well", Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, told reporters at Wednesday's news conference. The boys were put in green plastic toboggans and carried through: at some points, there were steep slopes with cascading waters and the rescuers had to use a pulley system to winch them up. He was the only casualty of the operation. It was nice to be a part of that and I would do it again given the option. In the video, Volanthen is heard talking to the group, telling them at the time that they had been in the cave for 10 days and that many rescuers were coming to save them.

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It's an inspiring story fit for Hollywood: 12 courageous young soccer players trapped in a flooded cave for two weeks, dauntless rescuers risking life and limb to save the team, a wave of support from dozens of countries as the world watched with bated breath for the rescuers to emerge victorious with the Wild Boars safe in hand.

Experts say the divers brought a variety of skills, including the ability to install guide lines that help in low visibility, and previous experience in global operations.

One of the men most responsible for the success of the rescue is Australian anaesthetist and underwater cave explorer Richard Harris, who was part of the 20-strong Australian rescue contingent.

There were about a hundred people inside the cave for each rescue operation, Anderson said, and each boy was handled by dozens of people as their perilous movement through a total of nine chambers unfolded.

"The favourable outcome that has been achieved is nearly beyond our imagination when we first became involved in this operation". They were discovered on June 3 and rescued after a three-day operation involving experts from several countries, including the Thai Navy Seal, the United States Indo-Pacific Command and British cave diving experts.

Samarn, an emergency rescue worker at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport after he left the SEALs in 2006, joined the cave rescue operation on July 1.

He said he had "no idea" how long it would take, adding that "it depends on whether we find the documents".

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