Tham Luang cave rescue
Rescue personnel and equipment at the cave entrance
Date23 June – 10 July 2018
(18 days)
LocationTham Luang Nang Non, Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Thailand[1]
Coordinates20°22′54″N 99°52′06″E / 20.38167°N 99.86833°E / 20.38167; 99.86833
TypeCave rescue
CauseMonsoon flooding[2]
OutcomeGroup found alive on 2 July; all rescued between 8 and 10 July 2018[3][4][5]
Deaths2 (2 rescuers, 1 later, which resulted from the rescue)
Non-fatal injuriesMinor scrapes and cuts, mild rashes,[6][7] lung inflammation[8]
Location within Thailand

In June and July 2018, a junior association football team was rescued from Tham Luang Nang Non, a cave system in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Twelve members of the team, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach entered the cave on 23 June after a practice session. Shortly after they entered, heavy rainfall began and partially flooded the cave system, blocking their way out and trapping them deep within.

Efforts to locate the group were hampered by rising water levels and strong currents, and the team were out of contact with the outside world for more than a week. The cave rescue effort expanded into a massive operation amid intense worldwide public interest and involved international rescue teams. On 2 July, after advancing through narrow passages and muddy waters, British divers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton found the group alive on an elevated rock about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the cave mouth.

Rescue organisers discussed various options for extracting the group, including whether to teach them basic underwater diving skills to enable their early rescue, to wait until a new entrance to the cave was found or drilled or to wait for the floodwaters to subside by the end of the monsoon season several months later. After days of pumping water from the cave system and a respite from the rainfall, the rescue teams worked quickly to extract the group from of the cave before the next monsoon rain, which was expected to bring additional downpours on 11 July. Between 8 and 10 July, all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave by an international team.[9]

The rescue effort involved as many as 10,000 people, including more than 100 divers, scores of rescue workers, representatives from about 100 governmental agencies, 900 police officers and 2,000 soldiers. Ten police helicopters, seven ambulances, more than 700 diving cylinders and the pumping of more than one billion litres of water from the caves were required.

Saman Kunan, a 37-year-old former Royal Thai Navy SEAL, died of asphyxiation during an attempted rescue on 6 July while returning to a staging base in the cave after delivering diving cylinders to the trapped group. The following year, in December 2019, rescue diver and Thai Navy SEAL Beirut Pakbara died of a blood infection contracted during the operation.[10][11][12]

Background and disappearance

Doi Nang Non, known among Thais as the "Mountain of the Sleeping Lady". When viewed from this angle, it is said to resemble a woman lying on her back.
Thai news report from NBT news (no subtitles)

Tham Luang Nang Non is a karstic cave complex beneath Doi Nang Non, a mountain range on the border between Thailand and Myanmar.[13] The system is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long and has many deep recesses, narrow passages and tunnels winding under hundreds of metres of limestone strata. Since part of the cave system is seasonally flooded, a sign advising against entering the caves during the rainy season (July–November) is posted at the entrance.[14]

On Saturday June 23, 2018 a group of 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16, from a local junior football team named the Wild Boars, and their 25-year-old assistant coach, Ekkaphon Kanthawong[15] went missing after exploring the cave. According to early news reports, they planned to have a birthday party in the cave after the football practice, and spent a significant sum of money on food, but they denied this in a news conference after the rescue.[16] The team was stranded in the tunnels by sudden and continuous rainfall after they had entered the cave.[17] They were forced to leave some food supplies behind when fleeing the rising water.[18][19][20][21]

Around 7 p.m. that day, head coach and founder of the team, Nopparat Kanthawong, (Thai: นพรัตน์ กัณฑะวงษ์) checked his phone, finding about 20 missed calls from parents worried that their children had not returned. Nopparat dialed assistant coach Ekkaphon and a number of the boys but was unable to reach them. He eventually reached Songpon Kanthawong, a 13-year-old member of the team who had said that he had parted ways with the team after practice and that that the rest of the boys had entered the Tham Luang caves. The coach raced to the caves, finding abandoned bicycles and bags near the entrance with water seeping out of the muddy pathway.[22] He alerted authorities to the missing group after seeing the team's unclaimed belongings.[23]

Team members

The members of the trapped team were as follows:[20][24]

Name (RTGS) Informal name Age Comments
Chanin Wibunrungrueang Titan 11
Phanumat Saengdi Mig 13
Duangphet Phromthep Dom 13 Team captain.[24] Took his own life in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2023, aged 17.[25][26]
Somphong Chaiwong Pong 13
Mongkhon Bunpiam Mark 13 Last to be rescued.[27] Stateless.[28]
Natthawut Thakhamsong Tern 14 Rescued in first mission.[citation needed]
Ekkarat Wongsukchan Bew 14
Adun Sam-on Dul 14 Only English-language speaker; communicated with initial rescue party.[24] Stateless.[28][29]
Prachak Sutham Note 15 Rescued in first mission.[30]
Phiphat Phothi Nick 15 Rescued in first mission.[citation needed]
Phonchai Khamluang Tee 16 Stateless.[28][29]
Phiraphat Somphiangchai Night 16–17 Celebrated his birthday while in the cave.[21]
Ekkaphon Kanthawong Eak (or Ekk, Ek) 25 Assistant coach and former monk.[24] Stateless.[28][29] Ninth to be rescued.[citation needed]

The assistant coach and three of the boys had no nationality. Head coach Nopparat explained that they are from tribes in an area that extends across Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and China. This region has no clear borders and people are not assigned passports. Their statelessness deprived them of basic benefits and rights, including the possibility to leave the Chiang Rai province. "To get nationality is the biggest hope for the boys", head coach Nopparat said. "In the past, these boys have problems travelling to play matches outside of Chiang Rai because of their nationless status."[31] Following the team's rescue, Thai officials promised to provide the three boys and the coach with legal assistance in obtaining Thai citizenship, a process which they said could take up to six months.[32] On 26 September, the boys and the coach were granted Thai citizenship.[33]

Search

External videos
video icon The first video released by Thai Navy SEALs showing the children and their coach after they were found by British volunteer divers
External images
image icon Map, from above, of the Tham Luang cave system, provided by BBC News
image icon Map, side view, of the Tham Luang cave system, provided by Deutsche Welle
Rescuers looking for alternative access routes to the cave

British caver Vern Unsworth, who lives in Chiang Rai and has detailed knowledge of the cave complex, was scheduled to make a solo venture into the cave on 24 June when he received a call about the missing boys.[34] Unsworth advised the Thai government to request assistance from the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC).[34][35] On 25 June, Thai Navy SEALs divers arrived and began searching the cave.[36] A Thai Navy SEAL said the water was so murky that even with lights they could not see where they were going underwater.[37] After continuous rain, which further flooded the entrance, the search had to be temporarily interrupted.[38] On 27 June, three BCRC cave divers arrived with specialist equipment including HeyPhone radios,[39] followed by separate teams of open water divers. On 28 June, a United States Air Force team—reportedly United States Air Force Pararescuemen[40] from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, the 31st Rescue Squadron, and the 353rd Special Operations Group—joined them. By 29 June, an Australian Federal Police team of Specialist Response Group divers had arrived, followed by a Chinese team of divers from the Beijing Peaceland Foundation on Sunday, 1 July.[35][41][42][43][44]

Meanwhile, policemen with sniffer dogs searched the surface above for shaft openings that could provide alternative entrances to the cave system below. Drones and robots were also used in the search, but no technology existed to scan for people deep underground.[45]

BCRC divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen advanced through the cave complex placing diving guidelines, supported by Thailand-based Belgian cave diver Ben Reymenants[46][47][48][49] and French diver Maksym Polejaka.[50][51][52][53][54] The search had to be suspended due to the weather, as rainfall increased the flow of water in the cave where the divers were battling strong currents and poor visibility.[55][56] The search resumed on 2 July after the weather improved. The twelve boys and the coach were discovered at approximately 22:00[57] by Stanton and Volanthen, whose efforts were overseen from outside by BCRC diver Robert Harper.[58] The boys and coach were on a narrow rock shelf about 400 metres (1,300 ft) beyond the "Pattaya Beach" chamber,[57][59][60] named after an above-ground beach in Thailand. Volanthen had been placing guidelines in the cave to assist others in navigation when he ran out of line. He then swam to the surface and soon found the missing group, smelling them before hearing or seeing them.[61][62] The ledge where they were found is about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi)[63] from the cave mouth.[64] A video of the encounter, showing the boys and their interactions with the divers, was posted on Facebook by the Thai Navy SEALs.[65] Former Chiang Rai provincial governor Narongsak Osatanakorn [th], who was in charge of rescue work, said, "We found them safe. But the operation isn't over."[66][67] The Thai, US, Australian and Chinese diving teams supported by the BCRC divers began transporting diving bottles into the cave system and established an air supply storage area in Chamber 3.[47][68]

On 3 July, the trapped group was joined by three Thai Navy SEALs who supported them until the rescue. The SEALs included Thai Army doctor Lt. Col. Pak Loharachun of the 3rd Medical Battalion, who had completed the Navy SEALs course.[69][70] Thai officials told reporters that rescuers were providing health checks and treatment and keeping the boys entertained and that none of those trapped was in serious condition. "They have been fed with easy-to-digest, high-energy food with vitamins and minerals, under the supervision of a doctor", Rear Admiral Apagorn Youkonggaew, head of the Thai Navy's Special Forces, told reporters. A video made by the rescuers, and shared a few hours later by the Thai Navy SEALs, showed all twelve boys and their coach introducing themselves and stating their age. Wrapped in emergency blankets and appearing frail, they all said hello to the outside world. "Sawatdi khrap", each boy said with his palms together in wai, the traditional Thai greeting.[71] A second video shows a medic treating them.[72] It was believed that some of the group could not swim,[73] complicating what would already be a difficult rescue.[74] The Army doctor discovered that they had attempted to dig their way out of the cave. The team members had used rock fragments to dig every day, creating a hole five metres deep.[70]

BCRC diver Jason Mallinson offered the boys and coach an opportunity to send messages to relatives by using his wet notes pad.[55] Many of the notes said they were safe, reassured family members that everything was fine, and included words of love, reassurance and encouragement.[75]

Planning and preparation

Rescue camp near Tham Luang cave

A logistics camp was established at the cave entrance, which accommodated hundreds of volunteers and journalists in addition to the rescue workers. The site was divided into several zones: restricted areas for the Thai Navy SEALs, other military personnel, and civilian rescuers; an area for the relatives to give them privacy; and areas for the press and the general public.[76]

An estimated 10,000 people contributed to the rescue effort, including more than 100 divers, representatives from about 100 government agencies, 900 police officers, 2,000 soldiers and numerous volunteers. Equipment included ten police helicopters, seven police ambulances, and more than 700 diving cylinders, of which more than 500 were in the cave at any time while another 200 were in the queue to be refilled. More than a billion litres of water (the equivalent of 400 Olympic-size swimming pools) was removed.[77][78]

Challenges

The point where the boys became stranded was about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi)[63] from the entrance and 800–1,000 metres (2,600–3,300 ft) below the top of the mountain.[79] The route to them had several flooded sections, some with strong currents and zero visibility,[80] and some extremely narrow parts, the smallest measuring only 38 by 72 centimetres (15 in × 28 in).[81][82][83][84]

The journey through the cave to the boys took six hours against the current and five hours to exit with the current,[85] even for experienced divers.[86]

Pipes used to drain water from the cave and downstream lakes

From the outset, rescue workers battled rising water levels. In an effort to drain the cave, a stone diversion dam was built upstream, and systems were installed to pump water out of the cave and divert flows that were entering it. On 4 July, it was estimated that the pumps were removing 1,600,000 L/h (420,000 US gal/h) from the cave, ruining nearby farm fields in the process.[87][88] For a time, well-meaning volunteers inadvertently pumped water back into the groundwater supply.[89] Helped by a spell of unseasonably dry weather, these efforts reduced water levels by 1.5 centimetres (0.6 in) per hour on 5 July, enabling rescue teams to walk 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) into the cave. However, heavy rains forecast for 8 July were expected to halt or reverse this process and could even flood the position where the team was trapped.[90]

On 6 July, the oxygen level in the cave was detected to have dropped, raising fears that the boys might develop hypoxia if they remained for a prolonged time. By 8 July the oxygen level was measured to be 15%; the level needed to maintain normal function for humans is between 19.5% and 23.5%.[91] Thai military engineers attempted to install an air supply line to the boys, but the effort was abandoned as impractical.[55]

Options

Thai rescue workers at cave entrance positioning a pipe for water pumping on 2 July

As the crisis unfolded, rescuers planned several different methods to save the team and coach. The principal options were to:[86][92][93][94]

The diving option

Multiple dangers—the threat of more heavy rain, dropping oxygen levels, and the difficulty or impossibility of finding or drilling an escape passage—forced rescuers to make the decision to bring out the team and coach with experienced divers.[55][96] The Thai Navy SEALs and US Air Force rescue experts met with the Thai Minister of the Interior who approved the plan.[55][97] 90 divers worked in the cave system, 40 from Thailand and 50 from other countries.[98] Rescuers at first considered teaching the boys basic diving skills to enable them to make the journey.[83][99] Organisers built a mock-up of a tight passage with chairs, and divers practiced with local boys in a school swimming pool. Thai SEALs and US Air Force experts then refined the plan to use teams of divers to bring out the weakened boys.[97]

Death of rescue diver

Saman Kunan, who died during the rescue
Monument for Saman Kunan at Tham Luang

On 5 July, at 8:37 pm, Saman Kunan (Thai: สมาน กุนัน; born 23 December 1980), a 37-year-old[100] former Thai Navy SEAL, made a dive from Chamber 3 to the T-junction close to Pattaya Beach to deliver three air tanks.[101][102] During his return he lost consciousness underwater. His dive buddy attempted CPR without success. Kunan was brought to Chamber 3 where CPR was attempted again, but he could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead about 1 am on 6 July.[101][103]

A member of Thai Navy SEALs class 30, Kunan had left the SEALs in 2006 at the rank of petty officer 1st class and was working in security at the Suvarnabhumi Airport when he volunteered to assist the cave rescue.[101][103] He was posthumously promoted to lieutenant commander by the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, an unprecedented rise of seven ranks.[104][105] A funeral sponsored and attended by the Thai royal family was held on 14 July. On the same day, he was also awarded the Knight Grand Cross (first class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant by King Vajiralongkorn.[105] A memorial statue of him may form a part of a proposed tourist attraction at the site.[106][107]

Another rescue diver and Thai Navy SEAL, Beirut Pakbara, died the following year from septic shock after acquiring an unspecified latent blood infection during the rescue operation.[108][109]

Rescue operation

On the morning of 8 July, officials instructed the media and all non-essential personnel around the cave entrance to clear the area as a rescue operation was imminent, due to the threat of monsoon rains later in the week, which were expected to flood the cave until October.

For the first part of the extraction, 18 rescue divers consisting of 13 international cave divers and five Thai Navy SEALs were sent into the caves to retrieve the boys, with one diver to accompany each boy on the dive out.[55][110][111][112] The international cave diving team was led by four British divers: John Volanthen, Richard Stanton, Jason Mallinson and Chris Jewell (each assigned a boy) and two Australians: Richard Harris, an anesthesiologist, and his friend Craig Challen, a veterinarian.[49][55][113] Irishman Jim Warny became an additional lead diver on the final day of the rescue to bring back assistant coach Ekkaphon,[114] and physician Harris took over the lead rescue of Pong.[115]: 268–270  The lead divers' portion of the journey would stretch over one kilometre, going through submerged routes while being supported by 90 Thai and foreign divers at various points performing medical check-ups, resupply of air tanks, and other emergency roles.[116]

There were conflicting reports that the boys were rescued with the weakest first or strongest first. In fact, the order was which boy volunteered first.[16] "I talked with Dr. Harris. Everyone was strong and no one was sick," Ekkaphon told the press. "Everybody had a strong mental state. Dr. Harris said ... there's no preference." The team decided as a group that the boys who lived the farthest away should leave first. Ekkaphon also stated in their 18 July press conference, not realizing at the time their story had garnered global media attention: "We were thinking, when we get out of the cave, we would have to ride the bicycle home ... so the persons who live the furthest away would be allowed to go out first ... so that they can go out and tell everyone that we were inside, we were okay."[117]

The boys were dressed in a wetsuit, buoyancy jacket, harness and a positive pressure full face mask. Harris administered the anaesthetic ketamine to the boys before the journey, rendering them "fully unconscious."[118] This was to prevent them from panicking on the journey, which would risk their lives and those of their rescuers.[115]: 99  They were also given the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam and the drug atropine to steady their heart rates and reduce saliva production to prevent choking.[115]: 129 [119][99][120] A cylinder with 80% oxygen was clipped to their front, a handle attached to their back and they were tethered to a diver in case they were lost in the poor visibility. The rescue divers described each child as "a package".[55][121][122][123] The Thai government provided Harris and two medical assistants with diplomatic immunity against judicial action,[115]: 136–138  in case something went wrong.[121][124][125][126]

The anaesthetic lasted between 45 minutes and an hour, requiring divers, whom Harris had trained, to administer "top-up" ketamine injections during the three hour journey.[127][55][128] The boys were maneuvered out by the swimming divers who held onto their back or chest, with each boy on either the right or left side of the diver, depending on the guideline; in very narrow spots divers pushed the boys from behind.[55][122] The divers navigated them through tight passages carefully to avoid dislodging their face masks against rocks. The divers kept their heads higher than the boys so that, in poor visibility, the divers would hit their head against the rocks first.[55] The divers knew the boys were breathing from their exhaust bubbles, which they could see and feel.[121]

After a short dive to a dry section, the divers and boys were met by three divers, and the boys' dive gear was removed.[119] The boys were then transported on a drag stretcher over 200 m (660 ft) of rocks and sand hills. Craig Challen assessed them, and their dive gear was put back on before they were re-submerged for the next section.[55] The boys arrived at 45-minute intervals.[129]

After being delivered by the divers into the staging base in Chamber 3, the boys were passed along a "daisy chain" by hundreds of rescuers stationed along the treacherous path out of the cave.[130] The boys, wrapped in "sked" stretchers, were alternately carried, slid and zip-lined over a complex network of pulleys installed by rock climbers.[131] Many areas from Chamber 3 to the entrance of the cave were still partially submerged and rescuers described having to transport the boys over slippery rocks and through muddy water for hours.[132] The journey from Chamber 3 to the cave entrance took about four to five hours initially, but was reduced to less than an hour after a week of draining and clearing the mud path using shovels.[130]

The authorities warned that extracting everyone would take several days, because crews had to replace air tanks, gear, and other supplies, requiring ten to twenty hours between each run.[133][134][135] Shortly after 19:00, local officials said that two boys had been rescued and taken to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital.[136][137][138] Shortly after, two more boys exited the cave and were assessed by medical officials.[136] Low water levels had reduced the time required for the rescues.[139] The lower water was due to improved weather and the construction of a weir outside the cave to help control the water.[140]

On 9 July, four more boys were rescued from the cave.[141] On 10 July, the last four boys and their coach were rescued from the cave.[3][4][5][142][143] Experience helped streamline the rescue procedure, so the total time to extract a boy was reduced from three hours on the first day to just over two hours on the final day, allowing four boys and the coach to be rescued.[112][129] The three Thai Navy SEALs and the Army doctor who had stayed with the boys the entire time were the last to dive out. Three of these divers made it to Chamber 3, joining waiting rescuers when the pumps shut off for an uncertain reason, possibly due to a burst water pipe.[144][145] Water levels in Chamber 3 started to rise, which would have cut off rescuers' access to Chamber 2, Chamber 1 and the entrance of the cave.[144] "All of a sudden a water pipe burst and the main pump stopped working," a diver stated. "We really had to run from the third chamber to the entrance because the water level was rising very quickly—like 50 cm every 10 minutes."[145] This forced up to 100 rescuers still located more than 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) inside the cave to evacuate in a hurry, abandoning the rescue equipment inside the cave.[146] The last diver made it back to Chamber 3 as everyone was preparing to leave.[144] The rescuers managed to rush to the cave exit in under an hour.[146]

A number of news outlets reported on the role of the coach, Ekkaphon, during the rescue. He had previously been a Buddhist monk, and had guided meditation for the children during the ordeal. He also passed on a message in which he apologised for putting the children in danger.[147][148]

Recovery

Thai authorities said the rescued boys were able to eat rice porridge, but more complex foods would be withheld for ten days.[149] The Thai Health Ministry said the boys lost an average of 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) each, but were in "good condition".[150] They were quarantined while health workers determined whether they had caught any infectious diseases, and they were expected to remain hospitalised for at least one week.[151] Due to the prolonged stay in the damp cave environment, officials were worried about potential infections such as histoplasmosis or leptospirosis.[152] Parents of the team members initially visited looking through a window, but if laboratory results proved negative, they would be allowed to visit in person while wearing a medical gown, face mask and hair cap.[153]

The boys wore sunglasses as a precaution while their eyes adjusted to daylight. Detailed tests of their eyes, nutrition, mental health and blood were carried out. A Health Ministry physician said all the boys showed an increase in white blood cells, so preventive antibiotic doses were given to the entire team.[153]

Responses

Local

In this letter, King Maha Vajiralongkorn gave thanks to the people who had participated in the rescue.

Residents of Chiang Rai province volunteered to cook, clean for, and otherwise support the missing team's families and the rescue teams at the encampment by the cave mouth.[13] Social media was used to draw attention to the rescue attempts.[13] Classmates and teachers of the team spent time chanting and praying for the missing boys.[154] Classmates of one of the boys made 1,000 paper cranes for him, while praying for his safe return.[155] Local schools donated money to help the parents with living costs, as many of them stopped working in order to follow the rescue attempts.[76]

On 29 June, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited the search site and told the families of the boys not to give up hope.[156] Following the death of Saman Kunan, King Maha Vajiralongkorn announced that he would sponsor his funeral.[157]

After the rescue was completed, the boys' families, the rescue commander, military officials, and thousands of volunteers gathered at the cave entrance. The group gave thanks for the lives saved and asked forgiveness from the cave goddess "Jao Mae Tham" for the intrusion of pumps, ropes and people during the rescue.[158]

Opinions about the assistant coach

Some observers, primarily in Western media, questioned whether assistant coach Ekkaphon Kanthawong should face criminal charges for leading the group into the caves, despite the warning sign at the entrance stating that it is dangerous to enter between July and November.[159] The boys had entered the cave on 23 June.

Local communities, as well as the boys' parents, emphasised that they did not blame the boys or their coach, as the rain had arrived a month earlier than usual.[160] Vern Unsworth, a British caver mapping the cave, stated, "Nobody's to blame, not the coach, not the boys. They were just very unlucky ... It wasn't just the rain that day, the mountain is like a sponge and waters from earlier rain were raising the levels." Unsworth said that he himself had been planning to make a solo venture into the complex on 24 June, when he received a telephone call saying the boys were missing there.[161]

While the police chief told newspaper Khao Sod that he "hadn't ruled out" pressing negligence charges against the coach for putting the team in danger, no calls were made to take legal action against him. A number of lawyers stated that the coach would probably not face criminal charges, since Thai law also takes into consideration whether a person has malicious intent. In mainstream media, Ekkaphon has widely been held "a hero" and was a "calm voice [that] helped boys to beat despair in the darkness."[162][163][164] The coach was reported to have treated the boys with care, giving them his food, helping them remain calm, and instructing them to drink the relatively clean water dripping from the cave walls instead of the murky floodwaters that trapped them.[citation needed]

When asked if Ekkaphon should be held legally responsible for negligence, Mongkhon Bunpiam, the father of 12-year-old Mongkhon, rejected the suggestion: "We would never do that ... the boys love their coach ... and we as parents don't want it either. Coach Eak has been good to my boy, and now I hear how he gave them hope, and kept them calm for so many days without food. I have great admiration for him."[162] Tanawut Vibulrungruang, father of 11-year old Chanin, was reported to be "touched by the actions of the team's coach. Without him ... he doesn't know how the kids could have survived."[165] Head coach Nopparat said he would not have approved of the hike, but was confident in Ekkaphon's ability to take care of the boys. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the emphasis should be on the rescue and the recovery of the team, and he asked the public to avoid a rush to judgment.[166][167][168]

International

Over the course of two weeks, hundreds of volunteers, military specialists and corporate experts arrived from around the world to offer assistance in the rescue.

Volunteers, teams and technical specialists from countries including Germany,[202] Myanmar,[57] the Philippines,[203] Singapore,[204] Spain,[205] Sweden,[206] and Ukraine,[207] also participated in the operation. France offered to send a team of specialists and equipment, but Thai authorities believed that adequate resources were already on site.[208]

The ordeal captured the media's attention from around the world. Over a period of three weeks, articles relating to the incident dominated the top stories section at many major news publications.[209]

Sports world

FIFA president Gianni Infantino invited the children and coach to the World Cup final if circumstances allowed.[210] However, as the entire team was hospitalised for at least a week, they could only watch the match on television.[211] FC Barcelona invited the team to play in their international academy tournament in 2019 and to watch a first-team game at their home stadium, Camp Nou.[212] England and Manchester City F.C. defender Kyle Walker said that he wanted to send the team shirts after noticing that one of the rescued boys was wearing a Three Lions jersey.[213] In October 2018, the boys travelled to the UK as guests at Old Trafford for the Manchester United F.C. home match against Everton F.C. in the Premier League.[214][215] The boys were invited by the IOC to the opening ceremony of the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.[216]

Elon Musk

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On 3 July 2018, a Twitter user asked whether Elon Musk could "assist in anyway [sic] to get the 12 Thailand boys and their coach out of the cave."[217] The following day, Musk replied: "I suspect that the Thai govt has this under control, but I'm happy to help if there is a way to do so."[218]

By 6 July, Musk commented that engineers from SpaceX and the Boring Company were headed to Thailand to assist in the rescue.[219]

On 7 July, Musk revealed that he and his team planned to build a "tiny, kid-sized submarine" made from the liquid oxygen transfer tube from a Falcon rocket. The submarine would be light enough to be carried by two divers and small enough to fit through the narrow gaps.[220] Later that day, Musk mentioned that construction on the submarine was complete and that it was being shipped to Thailand.[221] On 8 July, Musk shared a video of the submarine being tested in a pool through a simulated narrow passage.[222]

By 9 July, Musk had arrived at the rescue site and visited Cave 3. He commented that the "mini-sub" was ready if needed and that it would be left in Thailand should it be needed for the rescue or for future events.[223] However, the submarine was not used during the rescue.[citation needed]

Timeline

International cave divers prepare their diving gear on 2 July

Legacy

The Wild Boars with Thomas Bach at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Argentina.

The head of the rescue mission and former governor of Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osatanakorn [th], said that the cave system would be turned into a living museum to highlight how the operation unfolded. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha acknowledged the statement but highlighted the concerns for tourist safety, stating that precautions would have to be added and correctly implemented both inside and outside to safeguard tourists.[236][237]

Following the incident, Thailand's Navy SEALs will include cave-diving in their training to be better prepared for similar emergencies.[238]

Three of the boys and their assistant coach were stateless, and officials promised that they would be granted Thai citizenship within six months.[32] On 26 September, the four were granted Thai citizenship.[33] The Thai government has vowed to end statelessness by 2024.[239]

Media

Books

Film and television

Song

A song about the rescue, "Heroes of Thailand" was written on 16 July 2018 by British music producer Will Robinson,[247] with English and North Thailand dialect lyrics and was performed by the Isan Project featuring Ronnarong Khampha.[248]

Awards

See also

References

  1. ^ Safi, Michael; Thoopkrajae, Veena (8 July 2018). "Thailand cave rescue begins as four of 12 boys freed in day of drama". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 July 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Former Thai Navy SEAL dies in rescue operation for soccer team trapped in cave". MassLive. 6 July 2018. Archived from the original on 8 July 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
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Further reading