Thailand cave rescue: an international effort to bring soccer team to safety

A group of young soccer players, ages 11-16, finished practice and then rode their bikes to a tourist attraction—a cave in the northern part of Thailand.

Along with their coach, they left their bikes at the entrance and walked into a dimly lit limestone chamber. Two weeks later, most are still trapped inside.

what happened

At some point it started raining outside, although the boys wouldn’t have known this until water came crashing into the passageways they’d decided to explore. The boys were driven deeper into the cave to escape the flood. Almost three miles in, they found high ground. And a wall that marked the end of the tunnel.

They waited, backed against the wall, half a mile underground. In the dark, without food and clean water.

nine days later

Two cave rescuers—the best available, flown in from England– shined their light into the eyes of 12 scared, hungry boys.

outside the cave

Thousands of people gathered. They were pumping water to lower the level inside the cave, and pulling on air tanks for dives that would bring much-needed food and water to the boys. En route, some passages were so tight, rescuers were forced to remove their tanks and shimmy through the limestone cracks.

at least two plans emerge

To either leave the boys on their ledge for several months, until the monsoon season passed, while supplying them with essentials;

or, to bring them out, one by one, on long underwater dives.

Two renowned cave rescuers from England led the effort, the best in the world at saving people stuck underground, yet still who have had their share of rescues-turn-to-recoveries in the inhospitable underground where there is no light, little air, raging currents and tight quarters. Geek out on the two superheroes here.

One Thai Navy SEAL died in his effort to help.

Read more here from the NY Times.

Should the cave be sealed to prevent further tragedy? Or is risk a part of life, the cost of which we’re willing to incur for a life well lived? Let’s take a look.

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