Well, this is an extremely good and – if we’re honest – absolutely unexpected outcome. Twelve boys and their assistant soccer coach have been found alive by rescuers inside a cave complex in Thailand a full nine days after they went missing, according to the governor of the local province.
The boys – who are aged between 11 and 16, plus their 25-year-old coach – went missing after practice on June 23. For reasons which will hopefully be explained in great detail at some point, they decided to explore the Tham Luang cave complex, which was located nearby on the border with Myanmar.
It’s a huge cave network which extends a full 10 kilometres into a mountain. Rescue teams had to deal with monsoonal water levels and mudslides in the 10 day struggle to locate the kids and their coach.
Here, courtesy of the BBC, is the moment the British diver surfaced to see all 13 missing people safe and sound. Well, as safe and sound as you can possibly be after living in a cave for 10 days.
“Thai Navy seals have found all 13 with signs of life,” Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters after the rescue.
“The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people are grateful for this support and cooperation, and we all wish the team a safe and speedy recovery,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha‘s office said in a statement.
There’s still a problem, though: they need to get them all out. Given it’s an absolute labyrinth down there, it’s not an easy operation. The lost cavers have been provided with sustenance in the meantime while rescuers figure out the best way to extract them from the network.
One possible option floated by rescuers is to teach the group how to use diving gear, then leading them out of the cave that way. To me that sounds like the plot to a bargain basement sequel to The Descent but I’ll leave it to the experts on this one. My expertise in rescue/extraction operations is basically nil.
But this is obviously an incredible outcome for what has been a particularly harrowing story. Good on the rescuers and good on the lads for toughing it out.