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12 Children and a Coach Spent 17 Days Underground — Despite Incredible Odds, They Were Saved

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Great news came from Thailand where the operation to rescue a children’s football team from a flooded cave has been successfully completed. Thanks to the skills and bravery of the Thai Navy SEALs and divers from numerous other countries, all 12 boys and their coach were safely brought to the surface.

Bright Side has become aware of some details of this story, showing us that even with terrible odds, there can be a very happy ending.

Some children and their coach went on an excursion to the cave of Khao Luang, situated in a mountain park in the Thai province of Chiang Rai only to find themselves trapped due to flooding caused by the monsoon rains that had started earlier than expected. The group had no means of getting out of the cave on their own: they went in too deep and had neither the diving equipment nor the experience of handling such situations.

The rescue crew found the boys and their trainer in a few days, however, they couldn’t get everyone to the surface immediately as the rains had flooded a major part of the corridors of the cave, leaving only small areas untouched. And the water only kept coming, leaving the cave’s prisoners with less and less oxygen.

First of all, the rescuers started pumping out water, as well as providing food, blankets, and oxygen to the group locked in the cave. This was a difficult and extremely dangerous task — the corridors of the cave in some places narrowed down to 40 cm and were completely filled with water, only making it possible to swim (or rather, squeeze) through them by pushing the oxygen tanks in front of them.

The Thai Navy had to decide how to proceed. After all, the flooded corridors of the cave turned out to be quite a challenge even for military divers due to strong currents, pitch darkness and the narrowest areas completely filled with muddy water. Not to mention the fact that the teens had no relevant experience: most of them didn’t even know how to swim and properly breathe underwater.

In the end, despite great danger, the decision was made to get the children out of the cave without waiting for the water level to drop. Taking into account the rainy season, this wait could take many months, and who knows what such a long confinement in a stuffy cave could result in. Each boy was accompanied by 2 divers — one of them carried a tank with oxygen that the teenager could breathe from through the mask.

About 100 divers, including foreign ones, were involved in the rescuing operation. Thai Navy SEALs posted a picture on their Facebook page where all those who participated in the rescue operation are depicted in the form of animals. For example, the white elephant represents the provincial governor, the frogs stand for the world-class divers, the elk stands for the rescuers from Sweden, the dragon represents the water-pumping team, the panda stands for the Chinese divers, and so on.

As we’ve already said, in some places, rescuers had to literally crawl through narrow tunnels filled with water and bring children — many of which didn’t know how to swim or dive — back through them the exact same way. One can only imagine how hard this was for them to do, because even taking a glance at these frames may cause a person to panic.

Unfortunately, there were victims. One of the rescuers, Saman Kunan, 38, died while delivering oxygen to the cave. The scuba diver himself did not have enough oxygen, and as a result, he lost consciousness and could not be saved. This hero sacrificed his life to save 13 people.

Thousands of people around the world prayed for the salvation of the Thai teenagers and their request was heard. All 12 boys and their coach were safely released from the trap. The operation took 3 days.

At the moment, all former captives of the ill-fated cave are in the hospital and their lives are no longer in danger. As official representatives of the medical institution said, teenagers have strong health and most importantly, they are strong in spirit.

These Thai people are celebrating the release of the football team.

According to the Thai military, they themselves do not fully understand how they managed to conduct such a complex operation. Maybe it was a victory of science, a miracle, or perhaps, both.

Whatever it was, let’s all thank the rescuers for their dedication and professionalism. And let there be more such great people and fewer unfortunate accidents in the future.

Preview photo credit Thai Navy SEAL / Facebook
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