'Hooyah!' Exhilaration and relief as Thai boys rescued from cave

CHIANG RAI, Thailand - Thais reacted with relief, gratitude and exhilaration on Wednesday after the successful rescue of the last group of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave complex, ending a 17-day ordeal that gripped Thailand and the world.

The last members of the group of 13 from the "Wild Boars" football team were brought out of the flooded cave on Tuesday night and taken by helicopter and then by road to a hospital about 70 km (45 miles) from the Thames Lung cave.

They joined their teammates in quarantine there and will remain in hospital.

The group was rescued after 17 days inside the vast cave complex in northern Thailand where they had ventured after football practice on June 23.

The rescue dominated front-page headlines in Thailand.

"All Wild Boars Saved," read one headline.

"Hooyah! Mission accomplished," read another, echoing the rallying cry of the Thai navy SEALs involved in the rescue.

เราไม่รู้ว่านี่คือสิ่งมหัศจรรย์ หรือวิทยาศาสตร์ หรืออะไรก็ตาม แต่หมูป่าทั้ง 13...

Posted by Thai NavySEAL on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The hashtag #Hooyah was also hugely popular with Thai netizens wanting to show their support for the hundreds of rescuers, including divers from around the world, who helped to get the boys out.

Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn thanked people in Thailand and around the world at a news conference on Tuesday for their well wishes and support.

"This mission was successful because we had power. The power of love. Everybody sent it to the 13," Narongsak told reporters.

He confirmed that three navy SEALs and a doctor who had been with the boys inside the cave also emerged safely.

4 ฉลามขาว ออกจากถ้ำอย่างปลอดภัย All 4 Thai Navy SEALs came out safely. Hooyah Hooyah Hooyah

Posted by Thai NavySEAL on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The boys' parents would be able to visit them, he said.

"They have gone home to shower ... and then they will be able to visit them, through a glass panel, at the hospital," Narongsak told reporters.

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

  • The 10-km long Tham Luang cave, which has been described as a labyrinth, sits near the Thai border with Myanmar.
  • 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.
  • Here's how the 12 boys might dive and walk out of the complex cave network. (Graphic Not drawn to scale)
  • The boys are located more than 4km from the mouth of the cave. Most of the boys don't know how to swim.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The 5-km escape route cuts through dark, flooded and narrow passageways, as this still from a video circulating online shows.
  • 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.
  • The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.
  • The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.
  • "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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ambulances wait at the mouth of the cave to whisk the boys away to hospital when they emerge.
  • Divers resuming the rescue mission on Monday (July 9).
  • 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.
  • Rescuers venturing into the cave in a photo released on July 7 by the Thai Royal Navy.
  • 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.
  • Torchlight only affords visibility up to three feet in the murky waters.
  • A nearby hospital ready to receive the boys after they are rescued.

Audiences around the world cheered the team's successful rescue after the saga generated messages of help, prayers and - finally - expressions of relief.

A Google search on Tuesday for the words "Thai cave rescue" revealed 359 million results, with interest peaking since last week when British divers found the boys and the rescue mission began.

Thai officials were expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday to provide updates on the health of the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach.

Narongsak told reporters that a detailed breakdown of the escape route and rescue mission would also be provided.

Also read: Hong Kong stars send messages of strength to footballers, rescuers

Touching memes celebrate success of #ThaiCaveRescue mission