All twelve soccer plays plus their coach have now been freed from the Thai cave in which they had been trapped for two weeks. The four Navy SEALS who had been assisting the boys still remain inside the flooded chamber. The SEALS announced that their mission was accomplished in a Facebook post, which read: “12 wild boars and coach out of the cave. Everyone safe. This time, waiting to pick up 4 Frogs. Hooyah.”
The post has already been shared 60,000 times in a matter of minutes. In another post, the SEAL’s wrote: We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave.”
The celebrations have begun 🎉 Volunteers are handing out FREE apples to all the journalists 🍎 😭 pic.twitter.com/Z4q1QAIgoi
— Jacob Goldberg (@yayqe) July 10, 2018
Applause could be heard at the scene as the news came through to volunteers in the rescue operation and relatives of those trapped. Many were spotted dancing and singing in celebration.
— michael safi (@safimichael) July 10, 2018
— ThaiPBS (@ThaiPBS) July 10, 2018
Others have paid tribute to Petty Officer Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy diver who died July 6 while assisting with the replenishment of oxygen tanks in the cave.
“I really loved him,” his wife Waleeporn Gunan told BBC Thai. “Every day before he left for work, we said we loved each other. At midday, we’d text to see if the other had had lunch.”
She added: “I want to tell you honey, you are the hero in my heart, you always were and always will be.”
President Trump, along with other world leaders, reacted to the incredible news on Twitter:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
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.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) July 10, 2018
Bhutan celebrates the rescue of the thirteen Wild Boars. Congratulations Thailand!
— Tshering Tobgay (@tsheringtobgay) July 10, 2018
The boys, all members of a local soccer team, also received a wonderfully generous invitation from the world-famous Manchester United Football Club – what an awesome “get well soon” gift!
“Manchester United is greatly relieved to learn that the 12 footballers and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand are now safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected,” the club posted to Facebook earlier. “We would be honoured to welcome the team from the Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season.”
The rescue operation involved personnel and volunteers from several countries including the UK, China, Myanmar, Laos, Australia, the US, Japan and others.
Ambulances could be seen taking the rescued boys to hospital for medical assessment. None of them are thought to be in bad physical condition.
Earlier in the day, Narongsak Osottanakorn, the governor of Chiang Rai, said he “expected they will come out today” – and he was right!
He noted that two of those rescued may be suffering from a lung infection, but the rest are in good health. “All eight are in good health, no fever… everyone is in a good mental state,” added Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, according to the BBC.
“The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems,” he said, “everyone is in high spirits and are happy to get out. But we will have a psychiatrist to evaluate them.”
One of the divers involved in the rescue, Ivan Karadzic, spoke of his immense fear at taking part in the operation and the grave risks faced by the boys as they swam to safety through the narrow underwater passages.
“They are getting forced to do something that no kid has ever done before,” he told the BBC. “It is not in any way normal for kids to go cave diving at age 11.” He said the players were diving in “extremely hazardous” conditions with “zero visibility.”
He continued: “We were obviously very afraid of any kind of panic from the divers. Then there is multiple equipment malfunction as you can imagine.” Karadzic explained how the dive team had several contingency plans to cover every eventuality.
“I cannot understand how cool these small kids are, you know?” he added. “They’ve been kept in a small cave for two weeks. Incredibly strong kids. Unbelievable almost.”
The diver said he was “very scared” when he saw a diver on the horizon, bringing one of the boys through a narrow underwater passage. “I didn’t know if it was a casualty or a kid. It didn’t feel good.”
“But when I saw that he was alive and breathing and seemed to be alright, it felt very good.”
Classmates of some of those rescued spoke to press at Mae Sai Prasitsart school on Tuesday, noting their excitement at seeing their friends again,
“Thank you, everyone, for your interest and support. I’m happy that they can get out and would love to play and study with them again,” said a teenage girl called Duangdeun.
Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk offered his services to the rescue teams, developing a mini-submarine that he hoped could ferry the children to safety. However, after arriving in Thailand, it appears that his invention was not suitable for this particular rescue effort.
“Even though their equipment is technologically sophisticated, it doesn’t fit with our mission to go in the cave,” said rescue chief Narongsak Osotthanakorn.
Musk, who has been posting regularly about his newest development, took to Twitter to announce he would be leaving the submarine in Thailand and naming it “Wild Boar” after the kids’ soccer team.
Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/EHNh8ydaTT
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
Many have praised Musk for his desire to use his enormous resources to help those trapped in the cave. “Inspiring. You saw a problem and came up with a solution in an amazingly short period knowing that it may or may not be used this time but still followed through,” one person replied to him on Twitter. “I’m sure it will benefit others in the future or even be adapted to become part of a new standard rescue equipment.”
Along with an extensive physical check-up, the boys will also require extensive psychological evaluation following the traumatic ordeal. Many of those involved in the 2010 Chilean miner crisis suffered from severe mental health issues following their rescue.
Carlos Barrios told the BBC that he suffered a mental breakdown two years after the accident, which left 33 miners trapped deep underground for some 69 days. “I used to be a very social person who loved to get together with my children and grandchildren for barbecues,” he said, adding “but now I prefer to be alone.”
Pray for all the boys, their coach and those SEAL’s still in the cave as they recover from this horrific ordeal.