According to breaking news from ABC, the last of the children trapped in a Thai cave and their coach were all successfully retrieved alive around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23 local time. The soccer team had been exploring after football practice, and all 12 boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped when a sudden monsoon flooded the cave entrance, leaving them trapped on a muddy ledge. British divers found them nine days later, more than 4 km inside the cave network huddled in complete darkness.
The rescue mission pulled in teams from around the world. It quickly became apparent that the only way to bring the trapped team members and their coach out was to teach them to scuba dive. Most of the children did not know how to swim and none had scuba experience. Cave diving is regarded as the most dangerous type of diving experience, and many feared the worst as rescue plans continued.
Sgt. Major Saman Gunan, a 38-year-old retired Thai Navy SEAL, was coming back from delivering crucial oxygen tanks inside the cave when he passed out underwater Friday morning and could not be revived. Gunan was the only casualty of the operation and is being hailed as a hero, according to ABC News.
“Gunan’s body was sent back to the naval base in Sattahib district, where the king of Thailand has ordered a funeral to be held with full honors.”
Boys began coming out of the cave Sunday, and more were liberated on Monday. Meantime, in the U.S., American tech entrepreneur Elon Musk had teams of engineers rapidly designing and assembling a child-sized submarine to aid in the rescue. Musk flew his invention to Thailand and entered one of the caves to test it in case it was needed, but the last few children were retrieved safely by Thai Navy SEALs just hours after he landed. Musk posted a short video of his invention in Instagram.
According to Stuff NZ, the unsung heroes of the rescue are the roughly 60 volunteers from local villages who came in every day to help drain water from the cave system. Local village leader Niwag Thamrongtatsanai said everyone in his community was trying to help in any way they could.
“We had some teenagers, some the same age as the boys in the cave, try to volunteer. But we told them ‘no, you are too young’ and this is dangerous.”
A volunteer from Bangkok, 53-year -old Thawatchai, fell eight meters while laying water pipes near the mountaintop and injured his ribs, but refused medical care, saying even as he clutched at his left side.
“No, I don’t want to see a doctor. There is a lot of water (to move) today.”
According to Straight Times, doctors earlier on Tuesday said the eight already-rescued boys had no fever or serious ailments, but they expect the final boys who were rescued to have potential lung infections or eye problems. However, all boys are expected to recover fully.