The operation to save 12 members of a youth soccer team and their coach in Thailand finally came to an end on Tuesday, the Thai Navy SEAL team in charge of the rescue announced.
All 12 players and the coach have been evacuated from the flooded cave structure, with four more divers still to exit, per CNN.
The boys and their coach spent more than two weeks trapped inside a cave complex prone to flooding. They were taken by surprise by heavy seasonal rains, according CNN.
Divers from all over the world traveled to Thailand to assist in the rescue, and the operation itself needed several days to conclude.
News of the ordeal spread across the world fast, and Tuesday's report that all the boys are safe was met with joy:
Manchester United also expressed relief at the boys' rescue, offering to welcome the team to Old Trafford for a match during the upcoming season:
Manchester United @ManUtd
#MUFC is 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 those affected. We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season. https://t.co/5CGMoD1Msq
According to the New York Times' John Ismay, a 38-year-old diver named Saman Gunan died during the lengthy operation, which proved difficult:
"Every part of this operation presented its own difficulties. The rescuers were swimming through underwater passages, then surfacing and walking to the next flooded section and diving again. They had to repeat that process, and to do so with children — many of whom reportedly could not swim. Everything here was a trade-off between traditional safety considerations and operational necessity. The conditions unique to this problem would have dictated all of the decisions made at the site."
The boys of the "Wild Boars" team are between the ages of 11 and 16, while their coach is 25 years old.