All 13 rescued from flooded Thai cave: Navy SEAL unit

All 13 rescued from flooded Thai cave: Navy SEAL unit
An ambulance carrying rescued schoolboys leaves from Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018.
PHOTO: Reuters

CHIANG RAI, Thailand - All 12 boys and their football coach trapped for more than two weeks deep inside a flooded Thai cave have been rescued, a Thai navy SEAL unit said on Tuesday, a successful end to a perilous mission that has gripped the world.

"The 12 Wild Boars and coach have emerged from the cave and they are safe," the SEAL unit said on its official Facebook page.

The "Wild Boars" football team and their coach got trapped on June 23 while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai after football practice and a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

British divers found the 13, hungry and huddled in darkness on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber several kilometres inside the complex, on Monday last week.

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After pondering for days how to get the 13 out, a rescue operation was launched on Sunday when four of the boys were brought out, tethered to rescue divers.

READ ALSO: Diver hails 'incredibly strong' boys

Another four were rescued on Monday and the last four boys and the coach were brought out on Tuesday.

Celebrations will be tinged with sadness over the loss of a former Thai navy diver who died last Friday while on a re-supply mission inside the cave in support of the rescue.

The last five were brought out of the cave on stretchers, one by one over the course of Tuesday, and taken by helicopter to hospital.

Three members of the SEAL unit and an army doctor, who has stayed with the boys since they were found, were the last people due to come out of the cave, the unit said.

Thai cave rescue: How each boy is extracted in complex process

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    The 10-km long Tham Luang cave, which has been described as a labyrinth, sits near the Thai border with Myanmar.

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    Rescue divers began operations on Sunday (July 8) to extract the 12 boys and their football coach from the massive Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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    Here's how the 12 boys might dive and walk out of the complex cave network. (Graphic Not drawn to scale)

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    The boys are located more than 4km from the mouth of the cave. Most of the boys don't know how to swim.

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    According to experts, divers required three hours to reach the boys from the mouth of the cave, Reuters reported. The boys' ordeal is expected to last 3 or more hours.

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    This undated handout photo taken recently and released by the Royal Thai Navy on July 7, 2018 shows a Thai Navy diver in the cave during rescue operations.

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    The boys will have to first dive for 400m before reaching Pattaya Beach, a chamber more than 4km from the cave's entrance. Then, they have to dive for another 130m before walking and climbing along a 400m-long dry area.

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    The first, nearly 1km-long section from where the boys have been huddling in darkness is believed to be the most difficult, requiring a long dive and crawling through mud and debris, with some crevices barely wide enough for a person.

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    The 5-km escape route cuts through dark, flooded and narrow passageways, as this still from a video circulating online shows.

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    How each boy will be tethered to the 2 adult rescue divers. Once past the first stretch, the boys' escape route forks east at a T-junction, and they must scrabble over some diverse terrain including giant boulders, sand and slippery rocks with sudden cliff-like drops and further submerged passageways.

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    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

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    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

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    "The hole is really small, I have to take off my air tank to crawl through it," a 25-year-old Thai Navy Seal told Reuters before the rescue attempt. "As I do, I feel the edges of the hole on both my back and chest."

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    Rescue divers will have to remove their scuba tanks and roll them along while guiding the boys through. After that though, the tunnels widen, the waters subside, and walking is even possible.

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    There are several 'choke points' in the complex cave network. After the dreaded T-junction, the rest of the journey is expected to be relatively safe as they will have reached a forward operating base inside the cave.

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    Ambulances wait at the mouth of the cave to whisk the boys away to hospital when they emerge.

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    Divers resuming the rescue mission on Monday (July 9).

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    Police and military personnel use umbrellas to cover around a stretcher near a helicopter and an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai on July 9, 2018.

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    Rescuers venturing into the cave in a photo released on July 7 by the Thai Royal Navy.

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    The high-risk operation at the Tham Luang caves paused overnight on Sunday (July 8) as rescuers recovered and oxygen tanks were replenished along the route.

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    Torchlight only affords visibility up to three feet in the murky waters.

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    A nearby hospital ready to receive the boys after they are rescued.

Officials have not been commenting on the rescue mission as it has been taking place, so it was not clear what condition those brought out on Tuesday were in.

The eight boys brought out on Sunday and Monday were in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said earlier.

Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around in hospital.

Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the rescued boys and some of their parents said they had not been told who had been brought out. They were not allowed to visit the hospital where the boys were taken.

The rescued boys had not been identified out of respect for the families whose sons were still trapped, officials had said.

The boys were still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week to undergo tests, officials said earlier on Tuesday.

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