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Thailand

Mission accomplished: worldwide jubilation as all 12 boys and coach are rescued from Thai cave

US President Donald Trump congratulates Thai Navy Seal team for successfully leading the international effort to save them

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 7:41pm

There’s jubilation and relief in Thailand and around the world after the rescue of all 12 boys from a youth soccer team and their coach who were trapped in a flooded cave in Chiang Rai for 18 days.

The Thai Navy Seals who ran the operation broke the news in a Facebook post.

“All 12 ‘Wild Boars’ and coach have been extracted from the cave,” the post said referring to the name of their team, adding “all are safe” and signing off with a simple “Hooyah”.

Four Seal team divers – including a doctor – who stayed with the group emerged a few hours later.

In a day of high drama, the remaining five boys emerged in groups as evening approached, guided out by international divers and the Seals, who have played an integral role throughout an unprecedented rescue mission.

A former Navy Seal, 38-year-old Samarn Kunan, died last Thursday after falling unconscious while diving his way back from his mission to place air canisters along the exit route. Funeral services, typically lasting multiple days in Thailand, are currently under way.

Thailand’s prime minister says the 12 boys saved from a flooded cave were given an anti-anxiety medication to help with their rescue.

Asked at a weekly news conference whether the boys had been sedated, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said: “Who would chloroform them? If they’re chloroformed, how could they come out? It’s called Anxiolytic, something to make them not excited, not stressed.”

Prayuth also said the Tham Luang cave will be closed for some time. He said it needs to be made safe so it can be developed into a tourist destination.

How a young ex-monk kept the Thai cave boys alive – and won locals’ hearts

US President Donald Trump tweeted a message of congratulations to the divers.

“On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the Thai Navy SEALs and all on the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from the treacherous cave in Thailand. Such a beautiful moment – all freed, great job!”

The US Indo-Pacific Command had sent 35 military personnel to help in the rescue effort.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also celebrated the success on social media.

“Delighted to see the successful rescue of those trapped in the caves in Thailand. The world was watching and will be saluting the bravery of all those involved,” May said in a Twitter post.

Manchester United also invited the “Wild Boars” to travel to England to visit the club.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season,” the club said in tweet.

Earlier, amid concern about the fate of those trapped in the cave, international soccer body Fifa invited them to the 2018 World Cup final, scheduled for Sunday in Moscow, if extracted in time and their health allows them to travel.

Lesson to be learned as Thai cave drama ends happily

But Jesada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, told a joint press conference on Tuesday morning that despite being healthy, the boys have to remain in hospital for at least a week.

“The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems,” Jesada said. “Everyone is in high spirits and are happy to get out. But we will have a psychiatrist to evaluate them.”

Four more boys were brought out on Monday from the flooded cave in Chiang Rai after four others were rescued on Sunday.

Four ambulances and a convoy of other vehicles arrived at the cave site on Tuesday morning as rains hit the region.

Monday’s rescue effort took about nine hours, two fewer than the day before, in a sign of growing confidence and expertise.

Each of the rescued boys has been guided through the dark winding cave by a pair of divers.

The 12 boys and their coach entered the cave on June 23 after soccer practice and were subsequently trapped by rising floodwaters.

Amid a frantic search effort by hundreds of rescuers and support personnel, divers found the group sheltering on a dry patch about 4km from the entrance of the cave on July 2.

Kyodo, Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse