Thai boys were passed "sleeping" through cave: rescue diver

11 July 2018 - 14:05 By afp.com
Thai Navy Seals navigating a flooded section of Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 1, 2018.
Thai Navy Seals navigating a flooded section of Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 1, 2018.
Image: ROYAL THAI NAVY / AFP

The boys rescued from a Thai cave were passed "sleeping" on stretchers through the treacherous pathways, a former Thai Navy SEAL who was the last diver to leave the cave said on Wednesday.

Elite foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs extracted the final batch of four boys, plus the 25-year-old coach, on Tuesday afternoon via a treacherous escape route that required them to squeeze through narrow, water-filled tunnels.

“All 12 ‘Wild Boars’ and coach have been extracted from the cave,” the SEALs said in a Facebook post, referring to the boys by the name of their football team. “All are safe,” they added, signing off with what has become their trademark “Hooyah” that they used to celebrate the successful extractions of the other eight boys over the previous two days.

The boys, aged from 11 to 16, and their coach, ventured into the Tham Luang cave in mountainous northern Thailand on June 23 after football practice and got trapped when heavy rains caused flooding forcing to take shelter on a muddy ledge. They spent nine days in darkness until two British divers found them, looking gaunt but otherwise offering smiles to the divers and appearing to be in remarkably good spirits.

"Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers... (as if) groggy, but they were breathing," Commander Chaiyananta Peeranarong said as he gave the first clear details of a remarkable rescue that ended on Tuesday where all the boys and their football coach were saved.

The Thai Navy SEAL released a video showing the daring rescue of a soccer team trapped inside a flooded cave, in an ordeal that has evoked international relief and joy.


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