Final Members of Youth Soccer Team Rescued from Cave in Thailand

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2018

An ambulance leaves the Tham Luang cave area as operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 10, 2018. - Rescuers raced to save four young footballers and their coach who remain trapped in a flooded Thai cave on July 10, as heavy rains threatened an already perilous escape mission that has seen eight of the boys extracted in 'good health'. (Photo by YE AUNG THU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)
YE AUNG THU/Getty Images

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:


“I don’t think anyone a week ago would’ve believed that these 12 boys would’ve been pulled out alive.” @billneelynbc reports on 12 boys and coach successfully rescued from Thai cave https://t.co/nD23w6Magt

Piers Morgan @piersmorgan

BOOM! Thai Navy SEALs say ALL the 12 boys + their coach now rescued from cave & safe. Wonderful news. Congrats to all the rescuers on an amazing job.

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.