Monday, July 23, 2018
facebook

google plus
World

Posted at: Jul 12, 2018, 12:31 AM; last updated: Jul 12, 2018, 12:31 AM (IST)

US rescuer details high-risk Thai cave mission

Mae Sai, July 11

The Thai boys saved from a flooded cave endured dives in zero visibility lasting up to half an hour and in places were put in a harness and high-lined across rocky caverns, said a leader of the US contingent that was part of the operation, calling it a “once in a lifetime rescue.”

Derek Anderson, a 32-year-old rescue specialist with the US Air Force based in Okinawa, Japan, said 12 boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16, and their coach, who were trapped for more than two weeks, were “incredibly resilient.” 

The complicated operation to bring the boys out of the cave began on Sunday, when four were extracted. Four more were brought out on Monday, and the operation ended on Tuesday with the rescue of the last four boys and their 25-year-old coach.

The 18-day ordeal riveted much of the world—from the awful news that the 13 were missing, to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found by a pair of British divers nearly 10 days later.

The group had entered the sprawling Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand to go exploring after soccer practice on June 23, but monsoon rains filled the tight passageways, blocking their escape, and pushing them deeper inside in search of a refuge.

“The cave was dry when we arrived, and within an hour and half it had already filled up by 2 to 3 feet and we were being pushed out,” said Anderson. “That was just in the very beginning of the cave and at that point we realised this problem is going to be much more complex than we thought,” he said.

Thailand’s decision to dive the boys out despite their weak condition and lack of diving experience was made when a window of opportunity was provided by relatively mild weather. A massive operation to pump water out also meant air pockets were created at crucial points of the cave, making a rescue possible.

Divers practiced their rescue techniques in a swimming pool with local children about the same height and weight as the members of the Wild Boars soccer team.

“The world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue that I think has never been done before,” Anderson said. “We were extremely fortunate that the outcome was the way it was. It’s important to realise how complex and how many pieces of this puzzle had to come together.” — AP


Coach: The unlikely stateless hero

  • Schooled as a monk and now hailed a hero, football coach Ekkapol Chantawong is one of several stateless members of the “Wild Boars”, a team whose survival after days trapped in a flooded cave fixated a country that does not recognise them as citizens
  • Coach Ek, the 25-year-old who was among the last to emerge from the cave, has been lauded for keeping the young footballers calm as starvation loomed in the dark
  • The UN refugee agency says Thailand is home to around 480,000 stateless people. Many are from nomadic hill tribes and other ethnic groups who have for centuries lived around Mae Sai, the heart of the “Golden Triangle”—a lawless wedge of land bisecting Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China
  • Among the stateless are Ek and three of the boys who were trapped in the cave alongside him—Dul, Mark and Tee—the founder of the Wild Boars club said

Story set for a plot for Hollywood flick        

  • The daring rescue operation will be soon seen on the big screen. The story will be getting a film treatment with Pure Flix Entertainment, which produced “God’s Not Dead”, is planning a film on the subject. The studio will team up with Kaos Entertainment on the project, which will be made on the budget of $60 million.

Incredibly resilient

What was really important was the coach and the boys all came together and discussed staying strong, having the will to live, having the will to survive. Derek Anderson, rescue specialist 

COMMENTS

All readers are invited to post comments responsibly. Any messages with foul language or inciting hatred will be deleted. Comments with all capital letters will also be deleted. Readers are encouraged to flag the comments they feel are inappropriate.
The views expressed in the Comments section are of the individuals writing the post. The Tribune does not endorse or support the views in these posts in any manner.
Share On