For over two weeks in the summer of 2018, the entire world came together to pray for a handful of boys trapped in an underwater cave in Thailand. And those prayers have been answered!
On June 23rd, the Wild Boars soccer team, lead by their 25-year-old coach, headed into the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex for a post-practice hike. After hiking for about six miles, the group didn’t think much of it when the skies opened up and it started to pour down rain… until the caves began to flood behind them.
Terrified, the group was driven even further into the twisting, complex cave system by the ensuing torrential flooding.
The team took shelter on a small ledge above the swirling water in a section of the cave. They huddled together for nine excruciating days before divers located them on July 2nd. Yet finding the team of boys, all aged 11 – 16, was just the beginning of the battle.
The most pressing challenge still lay before them: getting all thirteen souls out of the flooded caves alive.
Officials from all over the globe sent their best scuba divers and rescue teams, and great thinkers like Elon Musk immediately began brainstorming ways to use technology to help the mission.
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
The rescue mission was incredibly dangerous, with even the most experienced divers having trouble navigating the meandering cave system.
The boys were located about 4-5 hours (via diving, climbing, and swimming) from the surface; the path out required climbing up sections of rocky outcrops, and at other times they would have to use oxygen tanks to dive deep below the water to find the way.
Tragically, a former Thai Navy SEAL died during the rescue operation after he ran out of oxygen on one diving mission, yet his death did not dissuade officials from staging a last-ditch effort to get the kids out of the cave and back into the loving arms of their worried families.
Thai government officials feared that monsoon season would soon begin, effectively halting the rescue mission for the next three months. They knew they had to act fast or all would be lost, so on July 8th, a team of 19 international divers, including Thai Navy SEALs and international volunteers, spent days making three separate trips along the steep, rocky underwater cave system to bring out two boys at a time.
The dangers these heroes faced are not for the faint of heart, but thanks to their incredible efforts, all twelve boys and their coach emerged from the caves alive and well!
MISSION COMPLETED: Such an incredible feeling to finally be able to confirm that 12 boys, coach from Thailand's Wild Boar Academy football team have safely come out of #ThamLuang cave complex after being trapped inside for 17 days. Welcome home! 🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗🐗 pic.twitter.com/YTa0yWNepK
— Pichayada P. (@PichayadaCNA) July 10, 2018
The Thai Navy SEALs exuberantly announced on Twitter: “We are not sure if this is a miracle, science, or what. All the 13 Wild Boars are now out of the cave.”
If it not for the courage of this international team of heroes, this story would have had a tragic ending. However, their ability to work together ultimately saved thirteen lives and renewed our faith in the global society we all inhabit.
This is just the sort of good news that the world needed to hear during these tumultuous times! It’s so gratifying that when faced with saving these kids, every nation set aside their differences to work together to bring them home.
Watch the video below for more details on this incredibly validating rescue mission, and don’t forget to share to show your love and support for the heroes who saved the Wild Boar football team!