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Thai Soccer Team- Thirteen People, Seventeen Days Trapped in a Cave All Freed!

 In Foreign

In what could be described as a miracle, all thirteen members of the Thai Soccer team that have been trapped in a cave for seventeen days are now freed. But it was not an easy operation to get them out, and it took experts from all over the world to figure out how to free them after monsoon rains blocked their exit from the system of caves. It took 19 divers and 3 days to rescue the boys.

How it started:

The boys went on an “adventure” of exploration to a cave in Northern Thailand. When the parents of the 12 soccer team members stated that their boys were missing, their coach, Ekapol Jantawong, went looking for them and found them them in the cave. But monsoon rains soon filled the entrance, leaving all 13 of them trapped. They were undergound for a week before rescuers located them. At that point it became a race against time.

Finding them was only the beginning of the process. How to get them out was a delicate and dangerous operation. With more rains, it was unclear if they could be rescued at all. One US Navy Seal described the rescue operation as “like climbing Mount Everest.”

A Thai Navy SEAL died while attempting to deliver oxygen to the boys.

At the beginning, divers received a written message from the boys and their coach. It read:

“Don’t worry. We are all fine. When we get out, we want to eat a lot of food. Once out of the cave, the first thing we want to do is to go home. Teachers please don’t give us too much home work. 

P.S. The heroic doctor (aka as Mor Pak) and some SEALs who stay with the kids and their coach inside the cave are just fine.” Royal Thai Navy SEALs

Why was the operation so difficult? Many of the passages to get out were exceedingly narrow and filled with water.  As the rains continued, the oxygen levels dropped to 15%. The only way out was to swim/dive  – and many of the boys didn’t even know how.

Imagine being trapped with no light, the intense smell of bat dung, extremely cold, filthy water that was rapidly filling around you…they faced infections just from being in that environment for so long.

Screenshot via Fox News

The international team of experts came up with a buddy system, and pre-placed oxygen tanks along the route, as well as a dive line to hold on to all the way into the cave. They taught the boys how to swim/dive and companies donated full face masks to prevent injuries.  Then they had to use a kind of buddy system to get them out with tethers to the boys’ oxygen tanks. Each boy had two divers with them, and each wore layers of wet suits due to the cold water.

A few days of relatively clear weather allowed authorities to pump some of the water out of the cave, which allowed the boys to walk in some sections. You can see the entire operation in this tweet:

The last group of boys and their coach were extracted on July 10. One of them was placed on a gurney, but in general, most of them seemed OK. The first group of boys were allowed to have their families in their rooms, but the last two groups’ families could only look through the glass windows until they are evaluated and treated. The last four men, including a doctor, who stayed with the boys emerged safely from the flooded cavern after the rescue.

Doctors say they won’t be out of the hospital in time to take up their invitation to the World Cup in Russia, but we suspect they will receive many such invitations from now on.

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