All 13 'Wild Boars' rescued from Thai cave on third day of operation

All 13 'Wild Boars' rescued from Thai cave on third day of operation

Thailand cave reax
Classmates pray after their teacher announced some of the 12 schoolboys trapped inside a flooded cave have been rescued, at Mae Sai Prasitsart school, in the northern province of Chiang Rai. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

CHIANG RAI, Thailand: All 12 boys from the "Wild Boar" football team and their coach were rescued on Tuesday evening (Jul 10) from a flooded Thai cave complex where they had been trapped for more than two weeks.

The last five trapped in the Tham Luang cave were evacuated on Tuesday, the third day of the rescue operation.

"All 12 'Wild Boars' and coach have been extracted from the cave," a post from the Thai Navy SEALs said

"All are safe" it added, signing off with a "Hooyah", a SEALs signature throughout the painstaking mission to get the boys out of the cave.

Thai cave rescue all 13 wild boars saved

Four SEAL team divers - including a doctor - who stayed with the group were still to emerge, the Facebook post added.

In a day of high drama, the remaining five boys emerged in groups as evening approached, guided out by international divers and the SEALs, who have played an integral role throughout an unprecedented rescue mission.

Eight of the boys were brought out on stretchers over the first two days - four on Sunday and four on Monday.

Officials were not immediately available to comment on who had been brought out, and it was not clear what condition they were in. 

The head of the operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said earlier the final operation would be "more challenging" because one more survivor would be brought out, along with three Navy SEALs who have been accompanying them.

The rescuers have been learning from experience and were two hours faster in bringing the second batch of survivors out on Monday.

READ: Meet the Wild Boars and the heroes who helped bring them to safety

However, scattered monsoon rains continued to risk percolating through the limestone cave walls to flood the tunnels with fast-flowing water.

"I hope today we will be faster or the same speed as yesterday," Narongsak said.

A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALS has been guiding the boys out through nearly 4km of sometimes submerged, pitch-dark channels.

Thailand cave umbrellas
Police and military personnel use umbrellas to cover a stretcher near a helicopter and an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai on July 9, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha)

The "Wild Boars" football team and their coach got trapped on Jun 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

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

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

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

They are 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.

Four more of the boys were carried on stretchers out of the labyrinthine Tham Luang cave on the Myanmar border at dusk on Monday, bringing to eight the number brought out after two rescue pushes on successive days.

Thailand cave helicopter
A helicopter believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys from the flooded cave lands in Chiang Rai on Jul 10, 2018. (Photo: AP/Vincent Thian)

People across Thailand and the world have cheered the rescue operation, including at the Mae Sai Prasitsart school where six of the trapped boys are students.

Technology billionaire Elon Musk went into the cave on Monday and left the rescue team with a "kid-sized" submarine his company SpaceX had built, Thailand's interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said.

Musk said on Twitter: "Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids' football team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future."

TRANQUILLISERS

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who visited the cave on Monday, denied on Tuesday that the young footballers were tranquillised before being rescued, but admitted that they took anxiolytic to relieve anxiety.

There had been speculation that since all of the 13 survivors had no diving experience and most could not swim, and that diving out of the cave could be a frightening experience, they might have to be given tranquillisers before embarking on the high-risk journey.

Speaking after the weekly Cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Gen Prayut dismissed the speculation but admitted that the so-called Wild Boars soccer team members were given anxiolytic to reduce their anxiety.

"Like us, we take antihistamines to make us feel well, not excited, not writhe, not taking the mask out. Who would chloroform them? If they're chloroformed, how could they come out? It's called anxiolytic, something to make them not excited, not stressed," he said.

HEALTH CONCERNS

Now they are out, concerns are set to focus on the physical and mental toll of the ordeal.

Experts warned that drinking contaminated water or otherwise being exposed to bird or bat droppings in the cave could lead to dangerous infections.

They also said counselling would be needed to deal with the psychological trauma of spending so long not knowing whether they were going to survive.

But there were some promising initial signs.

Medical chiefs reported on Tuesday morning that the eight boys rescued on Sunday and Monday were in relatively good mental and physical conditions.

"All eight are in good health, no fever... everyone is in a good mental state," Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, said before all 13 had been rescued.

Nevertheless, the boys would remain in quarantine in hospital until doctors were sure they had not contracted any infections from inside the cave.

Even before the final rescues, tributes began for the courage of the boys and their ability to survive the ordeal.

"I cannot understand how cool these small kids are, you know? Thinking about how they've been kept in a small cave for two weeks, they haven't seen their mums," Ivan Karadzic, who runs a diving business in Thailand and has been involved in the rescue mission, told the BBC.

"Incredibly strong kids. Unbelievable almost."

READ MORE | Full coverage of the search and rescue operation:
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/topic/Thailand-cave-rescue

Source: Agencies/hm/ec

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