Thai Football Team Found Alive After Being Stranded In Flooded Cave For 10 Days

Rising waters forced the young boys and their coach to retreat further into the 10km long cave.

Cover image via AFP

On 23 June, a football team consisting of 12 boys and their football coach went into the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand after practice and did not return home that night

Image via Facebook

Local officials immediately started to look for the boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach after believing that they were trapped by heavy rain that cut them off from the main entrance of the 10km long cave, The Straits Times reported.

By 25 June, it was believed that the boys had retreated into the cave to an elevated air pocket called 'Pattaya Beach' as heavy rain resulted in rising flood waters

Image via AFP

During the week that followed, searches were conducted by Thai Navy Seal divers, a team of more than 30 American military personnel from the US Pacific Command, and three British diving experts.

Image via AFP

Meanwhile, relatives of the stranded football team kept a vigil outside the cave and set up makeshift shrines to pray and make offerings. According to Channel NewsAsia, Shamans and Buddhist monks also held prayers and implored "mountain spirits" to return the boys safely.

After a painstaking 10-day long search, all 13 people were found alive by two British divers yesterday, 2 July.

A video showed the emaciated group in mud-slicked football jerseys on a small cliff.

According to BBC, rescuers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen took several hours to reach the boys, who were about 400m farther along from Pattaya Beach.

In a Facebook video posted by Thai Navy SEAL special forces, one boy can be heard saying "13!" when one of the divers asked how many of them there were. "Brilliant!" he replied.

"Many, many people are coming... we are the first," the diver told them.

"You have been here for 10 days, you are very strong," one of the divers can be heard telling the group.

Image via AFP

According to Channel NewsAsia, governor of the Chiang Rai Province Narongsak Osottanakorn explained that the group will not be returning home soon, as rescuers have to devise a plan to get the group out of the cave in their weakened state. 

Once this phase is successfully carried out, a medical team will immediately treat the boys, who have reportedly sustained light injuries.

"We will prepare to send additional food to be sustained for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water," said Navy Captain Anand Surawan.

Family members and reporters camped outside the cave erupted into thunderous applause when told the good news

Image via AFP

"I'm so glad... I want to him to be physically and mentally fit," said Tinnakorn Boonpiem, mother of one of the boys,12-year-old Mongkol.

"I found out from the television... I'm so happy I can't put it into words," said a relative of another one of the boys, Channel NewsAsia reported.

Watch the video of the divers discovering the stranded group here:

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