Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Thai cave rescue: Water level surged as rescue almost ended in disaster

Thai cave rescue: Water level surged as rescue almost ended in disaster

The water pumps failed, and Commander Chaiyananta Peeranarong heard shouts of alarm as the final stage of an unprecedented operation to rescue 12 Thai boys and their coach from a flooded cave nearly tipped into disaster.

Meanwhile, reports say the boys and the coach were sedated to stop them panicking during the risky rescue.

A British diver who helped save 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand says he and other rescuers "are not heroes". The rescuers faced a complicated and unsafe diving mission to free the rest of the team and their coach. They survived the nine days before they were found by drinking water dripping from the cave walls, officials said.

"We're just very happy that the boys are out and safe", he said.

"I want this warm hug once again", his widow Valeepoan said on Instagram, posting a photo of her and Mr Saman embracing.

Contrary to the idea that the children would swim out, they appear to be motionless in the video as they are passed along a chain of rescuers including Thai navy personnel and volunteers from around the world. A video from the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page showed the group several kilometers inside the 10-kilometer (6-mile) cave network on a small wedge of dry ground. One of the boys lies on it covered in a metallic, reflective material.

The boys, all between the ages of 11 and 16, are now being kept largely in isolation to prevent infections from outsiders, AP reports, but most presented with few serious health conditions; some are beginning to eat solid food and walk around.

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The group ventured into the vast cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai after soccer practice on June 23 and were trapped when a rainy season downpour flooded tunnels.

The trapped group in Thailand have now all been rescued from the cave, and are now recuperating in hospital. An American military diver added: "Those kids were proper knocked out".

This week, after an 18-day ordeal, they were all rescued from the cave complex.

However, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said precautions would have to be implemented both inside and outside the cave to safeguard tourists, according to media reports.

The SEALs commander, Rear Adm. Apakorn Youkongkae, said the soccer coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, determined the order the boys from the Wild Boars soccer team should be rescued in. "My job was to transfer them along".

Plans to turn the rescue operation into a movie are also in the works, with two production companies racing to turn the extraordinary story into a film. In another video, released by the government of Thailand on Wednesday, the boys seem energetic and healthy.

The Thai Navy Seals have also published dramatic footage of the operation itself, showing how expert divers navigated the Wild Boar football team through the perilous journey to the surface. "To see all that bravery in the cave and then to get all the divers out has been such a touching event".

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