About 10,000 people contributed to the successful weeks-long operations to rescue 12 boys and their assistant football coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave, rescue-command chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said on Tuesday night.
Help has poured in from across the world, making it possible to complete the so-called “Mission Impossible” that kicked off after 13 members of a local football team in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province went missing inside the cave on June 23 in the wake of flash floods.
A 25-year-old assistant football coach of Mu Pa Academy Mae Sai brought 12 young footballers to the cave that day and the group became stranded inside after heavy downpours sent a ferocious tide of floodwaters into the cave.
First responders to the incident found the cave “treacherous” with thin air, darkness, cold and rising floodwaters. Some sections of the cave were also completely submerged and narrow.
The Royal Thai Navy’s SEALs and many officials from various organisations and at one point thousand of volunteers turned up to help. Rescuers from foreign countries also came and played a pivotal role in the final outcome.
Thanks to well-integrated efforts, careful planning and unity, all stranded survivors were evacuated safely between Sunday and Tuesday, the former Chiang Rai governor said.
“I hope we will learn a lesson and develop a practical model for future operations,” Narongsak said.
He also urged everyone to remember Petty Officer First Class Samarn Kunan, a former SEAL, who died inside the cave during his efforts to support the rescue operation as the “Tham Luang Hero”.