Last update of this page: 13 July 2018


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One of the most extraordinary rescue missions in living memory has ended with all 12 Thai football players and their coach saved from deep inside the Tham Luang cave complex in Northern Thailand.

Appropriately, it was the Thai Navy Seals - heroes one and all, and none more so than former Seal Suman Gunan, who died during the rescue effort last Friday - who announced the incredibly dangerous and difficult mission had been completed.

coach & 4 boys

"12 Wild Boars [the name of the football team] and the coach out of the cave. Everyone safe," the unit wrote on its Facebook page.

When, on Monday, members of the Wild Boars football club spotted a light emerging from the watery depths that had confined them to a pitch-black chamber in Tham Luang cave in Thailand's Mae Sai district for nine days, they had no idea it was being carried by two British men. Unaware of the headlines and sympathy their plight had inspired around the world, the 12 boys and their coach assumed the divers were explorers.

Adul Sam-on, 14, called out in English to ask the divers what day it was and tell them that he and his friends were hungry. His teammates, unable to follow the conversation, chattered "eat, eat, eat" with the little English they had. Adul assured his friends: "I already told them." Driven by the revelation that the boys are alive and that a rescue is likely, Thai sports outlets have been working to piece together the dynamics and personalities of the team.

Wild Boars FC, known in Thai as Moo Pa, was established three years ago as a small, regional club to compete in provincial tournaments. It has under-13, under-16 and under-19 squads, and since members of each squad are trapped in the cave, the entire club has had to sit out of competitive matches. Most of the players are from ethnic minorities and underprivileged communities, and many join when they are eight or nine years old.



Name Nickname Age Nation
Chanin Vibulrungruang Titan 11 thai
Panumas Sangdee Mick 13 thai
Duganpet Promtep Dom 13 thai
Somepong Jaiwong Pong 13 thai
Mongkol Booneiam Mark 13 stateless
Nattawut Takamrong Tie 14 thai
Ekarat Wongsukchan Bew 14 thai
Adul Sam-on Dul 14 stateless
Prajak Sutham Note 15 thai
Pipat Pho Nick 15 thai
Pornchai Kamluang Tee 16 stateless
Peerapat Sompiangjai Night 17 thai
Ekapol Chantawong (assistant coach) Ake 25 stateless


Timeline: How the Thai cave rescue unfolded

Saturday, June 23

The boys were apparently performing a sort of "initiation" ceremony in the cave, and got stuck when the cave flooded, blocking their way out. The search and rescue mission begins after 12 members of the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach go missing inside at flooded cave complex in northern Thailand.

The youngsters, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach enter the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand during heavy rains after football practice. They are reported missing by a mother after her son does not come home that night. Local officials find bicycles locked to a fence and shoes and football boots close to the entrance.

Park officials discover the boys' bikes at the entrance to the cave, and worried parents call the police when they realize their children are missing. A major search and rescue operation is launched to find them.

Sunday, June 24

Park officials and police find handprints and footprints believed to belong to the boys.

Rescue teams find bags and sandals 3 km inside the cave but are forced to suspend the search because of fast rising waters.

Relatives start to keep vigil outside the cave.

Monday, June 25

Thai Navy SEAL divers enter the cave searching for the boys. Thai Royal Navy SEAL divers reach a poiny with more handprints on the wall, but pause the search again because of flooding. Officials start pumping out water.

Makeshift shrines are set up for parents to pray and make offerings as heavy rains continue.

Tuesday, June 26

Heavy rain stops helicopters from searching for other entrances to the cave.

Divers are forced out of the cave by rushing floodwaters as they try to reach an air pocket called "Pattaya Beach", where the boys are believed to have retreated.

Divers reach a T-junction several kilometres inside the cave but are forced back by rushing floodwaters that clog a narrow crevice

Wednesday, June 27

Approximately 1,000 army & navy troops along with local volunteers join the search. By nightfall, rescue specialists from the US military and the UK also arrive.

A team of more than 30 American military personnel from the US Pacific Command arrive, including pararescue and survival specialists, and are joined by three British diving experts who start to probe the cave, but quickly retreat in the face of heavy flooding.

Thursday, June 28

Heavy duty pumps are brought in to combat the floodwaters, but heavy rain forces rescuers to pause for five hours.

Downpours create fast-moving floods inside the cave forcing a suspension of the rescue. Water pumps start draining rising, murky floodwaters.

The underwater rescue is temporarily halted after downpours bring fast-moving floods inside the cave. Water pumps are shipped in to drain the rising, murky floodwaters and drones are dispatched to help find new vents in the cave roof.

Friday, June 29

Teams from China join the multinational rescue effort. Thailand's junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha visits the site and urges relatives not to give up hope. He also leads a meditation and jokes and cooks with relatives, asking them not to give up hope.

Saturday, June 30

Australia also sends in experts.

A break in the rain allows divers to reach further inside the cave but they are still a long distance from where the boys are believed to be.

Sunday, July 1

Experts from at least six countries, led by Thai Navy SEALs continue working to reach the caves. More equipment is flown in by plane.

Divers inch further into the cave, as an operating base is set up inside and hundreds of oxygen tanks and other supplies are pulleyed in.

Monday, July 2

Contact made: Two British divers find all 12 boys and their coach alive, perched on a shelf above the floodwaters 4 km inside the cave.

Finally, a miracle: the 12 boys and their coach are found alive late Monday evening about 400 meters beyond Pattaya Beach by the British cave diving team.

Crowds at the teeming rescue site cheer the good news, but attention soon turns to the difficult task of getting the boys out safely.

The coach of the soccer team, Ekkapol Chantawong, taught his boys how to meditate so they could stay calm and conserve energy while they waited to be rescued. Divers found the team meditating when they arrived at the cave.

Thai Navy SEAL divers and rescue workers entered a narrow passageway after passing through a key chamber where high, murky waters had previously blocked their progress.

In the course of their search, rising water filled sections of the cave, repeatedly forcing them to withdraw for safety reasons.

When water levels dropped, the divers went forward with a more methodical approach, deploying a rope line and extra oxygen supplies along the way.

Tuesday, July 3

Thai Navy SEALs bring medical help, fresh water, food and blankets to the soccer team.

Much-needed food and medical supplies -- including high-calorie gels and paracetamol -- reach the boys as rescuers prepare for the possibility that they may remain in the cave for some time.

There are three options available: teach the boys to swim out with scuba gear, drag them out of the cave, or leave them with supplies to wait until the water drains away after the monsoon season ends in four months.

While they try to figure out the best option, divers and medical professionals stay with the boys and deliver medicine and food to increase their strength.

Wednesday, July 4

Experts debate how best to evacuate the boys, while rescuers practice what to do when the boys leave the cave.

Officials say the group are being taught how to use diving masks and breathing apparatuses. Teams pump out water around the clock to help clear the path for divers, as more rain is forecast for the days ahead.

Swim lessons are rare in Thailand, where the leading cause of death for children under 15 is drowning. So the boys had to learn how to swim and dive before they could start their journey out of the cave. Thai Navy SEAL divers worked on installing a fiber-optic cable so the team could get on the internet and talk to their families.

Three expert cave divers from the UK and a team of 30 divers from the US military's Indo-Pacific Command begin working with the Thai Navy SEALS. China and Australia also sent experts and rescue workers to Thailand.

Israel's Maxtech Networks provided radio devices that helped rescuers maintain communication with the soccer team after they were discovered in the cave. The devices provided voice, data, and video access.

Countries including Australia, Britain, China, Israel, and the United States begin providing resources and helping out in the rescue.

Thursday, July 5

Rescuers continue to pump water out of the cave complex as trekkers try to locate a natural opening to the cavern where the boys are.

In a sign of increased urgency, authorities say expected rains may force a complex rescue quicker than first thought. A team of bird's nest collectors scour the mountainside in search of new openings into the cave roof.

Rescuers can now enter the cave up until the third chamber, located about 1,6 kilomrters from the cave's entrance without using scuba gear.

Hundreds of pumps drain floodwaters from the cave, and water levels are reduced about 40% in some areas. But the main part of the tunnel is still full of water. According to The Guardian, about 12.870 liters of water are being pumped out of the cave per hour. If they can drain enough water out of the cave, the boys could maybe even walk out.

Experts worry the soccer team is not well enough to be moved from the cave yet. Oxygen is pumped into the cave to aid in their recovery. At least two of the boys and the coach are exhausted and malnourished.

Friday, July 6

A Navy SEAL working with the rescue team dies. Saman Kunan, a former sergeant in the Thai Navy SEALs who was volunteering on the dive teams, dies after his oxygen runs out underwater in the cave system. It was the only fatality from the rescue.

Thailand's Navy SEAL commander says oxygen levels inside have dropped. He warns the window of opportunity to free the youngsters is "limited", in the first official admission that the rescue cannot wait out the monsoon rains..

Tragedy strikes: a diver helping to establish an airline to the boys dies after passing out while returning from the chamber, raising serious doubts over the safety of attempting a rescue..

Saturday, July 7

Rescuers race to beat forecasts of heavy rain at the site in northern Thailand. Oxygen levels in the cave continue to drop as authorities become more concerned that it won't have enough time to save the team.

Rescue operations chief Narongsak Osottanakorn says the boys are not ready to dive to safety. A scrawled message emerges from the team's coach, offering his "apologies" to their parents, while in other touching notes the boys tell their relatives not to worry.

The head of the rescue mission says more than 100 vents are being drilled into the mountainside in a frantic bid to reach the boys.

Oxygen levels in the cave have been quickly depleted by an influx of rescue workers in the cave, and levels in the area where the boys are trapped have dropped from the usual 21% to 15%.

Officials begin working to supply the boys and their coach with oxygen through a 4 kilometers cable running through the cave's winding chambers.

Sunday, July 8

Eighteen expert divers enter the cave and emerge 11 hours later with 4 boys who are ferried to a hospital in Chiang Rai.

Narongsak says late in the evening that the rescue mission will not start again for at least another 10 hours to allow oxygen and other supplies to be replenished.

Authorities announce that, with more heavy rain expected soon, the extraction operation has begun. Thirteen "world class" foreign divers and Thai Navy Seals enter the cave as the rescue begins. They say the first boy is expected out at 9pm (1400 GMT) but that the operation would take two to three days to complete, and that the weather would also play a role in the timeframe.

The only way to bring them out of the cave is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages, some only 2 feet wide. Two divers accompany each boy, guided by rope. The boys then walk from Chamber 3 to the mouth of the cave, which has been mostly drained over the last few days of the rescue operation.

7:55 p.m.: The first four boys are out of the cave.

The four children were healthy and taken to the local hospital after being rescued. The rescue mission concludes for the night because of low oxygen levels.

Monday, July 9

Rescuers re-enter the cave and 9 hours later bring out 4 more trapped boys. The families of the boys brought out Sunday are allowed to see them through a glass window.

As dusk falls four more boys are rescued. The Thai Navy SEALs greet another seemingly successful day with a social media post saying "Hooyah".

9 p.m.: Four more boys are rescued from the cave, bringing the total to eight who have been rescued. Some of the same rescue divers who got the boys out on Sunday went back in on Monday. They would have traversed about 10 miles total on the two trips.

All eight boys are recovering in the hospital well and are expected to stay there for a week to get fully healthy.

Four of the boys and their coach remain stranded in the cave. The rescue team takes another break Monday night to rest and reset the oxygen tanks.

Tuesday, July 10

Tuesday, July 10, 6:38 pm: The remaining four boys and their coach are rescued from the cave, bringing them all out to safety.

All 13 members of the soccer team are now rescued out of the cave and safe. They join their teammates in recovery at the hospital. They were in the dark for so long that they had to wear protective sunglasses when they emerged from the cave.

The world watched as the heroes found the boys, and successfully got them all out of the cave over three days of daring rescues. Tributes pour in as everyone celebrates their safe return.

"We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what," the Thai Navy SEALs wrote on their Facebook page. "All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave."

Thai authorities held a celebratory press conference where they said: "We have done what others thought was impossible."

Wednesday, July 11

The soccer team recovers in the hospital.

Health officials are keeping the team in isolation for a few days, treating any cuts or scrapes they have, re-nourishing their bodies, and monitoring whether they develop lung infections from any fungi or bacteria in the cave.

Video shows them smiling and waving from their hospital beds. After 17 days trapped inside the cave, they are safe.


Data: By CNN Staff + + AFP + uk.businessinsider

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