Thailand Cave Rescue: How the 'unprecedented mission' to evacuate 13 footballers unfolded

11 July 2018, 07:28 AM
Thailand Cave Rescue: How the 'unprecedented mission' unfolded so far (File Photo)
Thailand Cave Rescue: How the 'unprecedented mission' unfolded so far (File Photo)

The desperate effort to rescue the group of 12 Thai boys and their football coach trapped in the flooded caves of Tham Luang became successful on Tuesday.

The third phase of the Thailand cave rescue operation to retrieve the remaining four boys and their coach started at around 10.08 am local time on July 10. Earlier, another eight members of the soccer team were extracted safely during the first and second leg of the "high risk" mission on July 8 and 9 respectively.

While the Thai Navy SEALs in a Facebook post announced the mission successful adding that "all are safe", here we bring you a timeline of the mission.

A group of 12 footballers and their coach went missing on June 23: With the youngsters, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach went missing on June 23, the local police officials started an investigation regarding the same. Several handprints and footprint found outside the cave raised several eyebrows and officials started a vigil outside Tham Luang.

Thai Navy started Thailand Cave Search on June 24: Thai Navy SEAL entered the flooded cave and kicked off the Thailand Cave search amid heavy rains and an inclement weather situation. They set up Makeshift shrines for the parents of the missing players so that they can pray and make offerings for their children. An elevated air pocket called "Pattaya Beach" helped the boys to retreat further inside the cave.

International divers and other specialists took part: Drivers along with a team of American military personnel started a recce to make the rescue operation successful. Para-rescue and survival specialists reached the cave's entrance but heavy flood forced them to retreat soon.

Inclement weather dampened the spirit of the mission: Water pumps are shipped in to drain the rising, murky floodwaters. Drones are dispatched to help find new chimneys.

Divers entered the flooded cave of Tham Luang: A break in the continuous raining prompted drivers to enter the cave. An operating base and hundreds of air tanks and other supplies are set up inside so that rescuers can remain underground for longer.

The miracle happened!: The 12 boys and their coach were finally found alive about 400 metres beyond Pattaya Beach, which had become threatened by encroaching flood waters. While the nation breathed a sigh of relief following the news, attention turns to the difficult task of pulling the boys out safely. 

Food and medical supply reached inside the cave: Food and medical supplies including high-calorie gels and paracetamol reached the trapped footballers as rescuers were preparing for the possibility that they may remain in the cave for some time. 

A throng of volunteers started preparation for the high-risk mission: The group of volunteers were learning the process to use diving masks and breathing apparatus. Authorities were pumping out water round-the-clock with bad weather forecast in the days ahead.

Tragedy arose: The death of a diver helping to establish an airline to the boys dampen the spirit and raised significant questions regarding the safety of 13 footballers trapped in the flooded cave.

Oxygen level dropped: With oxygen levels started to decrease inside the cave, more than 100 chimneys were being drilled into the mountainside in a frantic bid to reach the boys. Elon Musk sent SpaceX while several tunnels for advanced transport systems were dug out to make the communication process easier. The team advanced ground-penetrating radar and brainstormed that an air tunnel constructed with soft tubing like a bouncy castle could provide flexible passage out.

The D-day arrived: The much-anticipated rescue operation begins, with rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn saying "Today is the D-day. The boys are ready to face any challenges." A group of thirteen medical teams and over 90 drivers, 50 of them foreigners, took part in the unprecedented mission between July 8 to July 10. Four boys were rescued and sent to Chiang Rai hospital, with authorities pausing the operation for 10 hours.

Second phase of Thailand Cave Rescue operation: Four more boys evacuated safely during the second phase of the challenging mission. Osottanakorn confirmed that the operation was carried out successfully and the health of all evacuated boys are 'perfect'.

Mission accomplished: Divers and rescue workers retrieved the remaining four boys and their football coach. "We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave," the Thai Navy SEALs wrote on Facebook while concluding the greatest ever mission on a good and positive note.

First Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 08:17 PM
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