On Tuesday, all 12 boys and their soccer team coach were finally rescued from a cave in Thailand after being trapped for nearly three weeks. The rescue came 18 days after the soccer team, the Wild Boars, became trapped in an elaborate cave formation flooded with underground water.
“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave,” the Thai Navy SEALS said on Facebook.
The whole world watched in hopeful, but uncertain, anticipation as the three-day rescue effort took place. The Thai Navy SEALs, along with U.S. military veterans and other experts worked to free the boys and their coach from what would have been certain death. The team of 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach are now being treated at a local hospital and are said to be recovering well.
The rescue attempt was successful, though it claimed the life of Sgt. Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, who ran out of oxygen while performing rescue efforts inside the cave.
According to USA TODAY, Kunan is being honored and will “be given royally-sponsored funeral rites including a military funeral at the Satthahip Navy Base in Pattaya, and then in his hometown in the northern Thailand province of Roi Et.”
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The Thai Navy SEALs are a special operations force founded in 1956 with the help of the United States. The group of elite Thai military personnel have have strong ties with and train alongside the U.S. Navy SEALs to this day.
The Wild Boars soccer team of 12 boys and their adult coach first became trapped in the cave after rains flooded them. It wasn’t until nine days later that they were found by expert cave divers. Still, it took another nine days for the SEALs and international diving volunteers to free the entire group.
The rescuers had to dive through the flooded cave compartments, following a lead rope back and forth to retrieve the boys — most of whom could not swim.
Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said, “We have finished successfully something that nobody thought could be done.”
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Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.