Water level surged as Thai cave rescue almost ended in disaster


The last group of the 12-member "Wild Boars" soccer team and their coach was brought out of the Tham Luang cave, near the border with Myanmar, on Tuesday night, safely ending a risky rescue and evoking worldwide relief and joy.

Two British divers found the boys on July 2, squatting on a muddy mound in a flooded chamber several kiometres inside the complex, nine days after they went for their quick jaunt.

John Volanthen returned to his home country after helping rescue the 12 boys.

Reuters spoke to rescuers and officials to piece together the three-day operation, which - aside from grit and daring - involved a huge amount of specialised and adapted equipment and materials, including pumps, guide ropes, wet suits, masks, stretchers, torches, pulleys, oxygen tanks, space blankets, and food gels to improve their health and energy.

But as a whole, "everybody is doing well", Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector, told reporters at Wednesday's news conference.

They waved to the camera as they recovered from their ordeal.

The boys had earlier received an invitation to come watch the World Cup final in Russian Federation, but doctors said they could not go as they were still confined to their hospital beds.

Thai rescue teams walk inside the cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing.

The Wild Boars football team which were stuck in Tham Luang Nang Non cave for 18 days after monsoon floods.

Five Seals and 13 foreign divers worked together to rescue the boys.

To get through flooded areas, the children were strapped to a rescue diver and guided through. The family members were not allowed to enter the room where they are being treated, in order to avoid infection, Dr Chaiyawej Thanapaisarn said. Authorities have promised to provide them legal assistance in the nationality verification process and if there were no complications in their documents all of them will have Thai nationality within six months.

"My wife actually grew up with the Thai Navy SEAL that died in the cave".

The new video from the navy does not include footage of the divers in the water with the boys, but it does show a team of people using pulleys, string and rubber tubes to haul a green, kayak-shaped stretcher out of a tight crevice. "Of course, I'm very happy if the boys get Thai nationality, as they will be able to access full citizenship rights". "On the day that he passed, the entire team was sad, but we used this sorrow".

Officials plan an interactive museum at the Tham Luang cave based on the historic rescue mission that will feature items such as clothing that key rescuers wore during the operation, Narongsak said.

"The world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue that I think has never been done before", Anderson said.