It’s the dramatic news story that’s gripped the world for more than two weeks: Would the young, Thai soccer team and their football coach, trapped in a flooded cave make it out alive?
Last night hopes were answered.
All twelve individuals exited largely unscathed after an 18-day, daring rescue mission which claimed the life of an experienced diver in treacherous conditions.
The ‘wild Boars’ soccer team and their 25-year old coach became trapped on June 23 when they were exploring the cave after a training session and it became flooded by monsoon rains.
It took dozens of divers and hundreds of volunteers (including many from Australia) to achieve the rescue operation at Tham Luang Cave.
At 10:08 am local time on Tuesday, 19 divers were dispatched to the remote cave and extracted the remaining four members including the team’s coach.
“Twelve Boars and coach are out of the cave. Everyone is safe. Now we are waiting to welcome our frogmen,” read a Facebook post on the Thai Navy SEAL page last night. Not long after another post was released reporting the rescue of the full team.
“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 team is now safe at Chiang Rai hospital and will spend at least a week there to help protect them from infection and any possible diseases they may have come into contact with during their ordeal.
Thai officials verified that the four-person military team which had stayed with the boys had also left the cavern safely.
When the news broke, cheers erupted at a local government office where dozens of volunteers and journalists were awaiting news.
Labor Senator, Penny Wong told ABC radio this morning that the result was “cause for inspiration and optimism.”
Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop hinted that Australians involved in the mission would be formally acknowledged in light of their immense efforts. Bishop expressly thanked Richard Harris an Adelaide anaesthetist as well as his diver partner, Perth vet Craig Challen, Australian Federal Police, Navy divers and DFAT personnel.
“I’m absolutely delighted that this extraordinary ordeal is over, that the 12 boys and Coach Chantawong are safe,” Bishop told ABC radio.
“They’re being assessed, but I understand that they are going to be fine, and it is an extraordinary international effort, brilliantly led by the Thai authorities.
“You’re right. There were times when people didn’t think that they’d be able to achieve this, and when the former Thai Navy seal died in the rescue attempts a few days ago, I think everyone’s spirits were very low, but now there are jubilant scenes coming from Chiang Rai, and understandably the rescue teams are physically and emotionally drained, but very excited that they’ve been able to achieve what is a world first, a most remarkable ordeal and rescue.”
Bishop remarked that she believed Harris was the last person out of the cave last night.
“That’s what I understand. He has been an integral part of the rescue attempt,” she said.