The desperate search of the junior soccer team and their coach, which gripped Thailand for the last nine days, finally, had a happy ending.
“Thai Navy seals have found all 13 with signs of life, inside a Thai cave complex nine days after they went missing,” Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters today.
The soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-years-old ass. trainer on June 23 went to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park near by the border with Myanmar.
A massive international rescue effort has been under way since, with rescue teams battling through thick mud and high water to try to reach the group in the cave network that stretches 10 km (6 miles) into a mountain.
Relatives of the boys, who have been at a shelter near the cave hoping for a breakthrough, were seen cheering, smiling and receiving calls after being given the news. Rescuers shook hands and congratulated each other as occasional cheers broke out.
It remains unclear whether any of the group are injured or in need of medical attention, but they have been given energy gels to sustain them while a plan is worked out to bring them to safety.
Medical teams had been sent inside the cave and it would take them around four hours to assess the group’s health and how fit they are before coming up with a strategy to get them out.
“Power gel and sustenance equipment has been brought to the team and we’ve sent people to keep them company until the transport plan can begin,” the Thai navy SEAL unit wrote on its official Facebook page.it said.
Divers from Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit had been focusing on an elevated mound inside the cave which cavers have named “Pattaya Beach”, which could have provided the boys with a refuge when rains flooded the cave.
Captain Jessica Tait from the U.S. Air Force’s rescue support team said there were “lots of challenges” throughout the search but that the effort had brought the country together. “But you know what I saw, I saw Thailand coming together,” Tait told reporters.
The next challenge will be getting the group out of the cave, which some have dubbed a “labyrinth”.
Rescuers had discussed waiting until water levels subsided to get the boys out. Other options included teaching the group to use diving gear to navigate the flooded cave.
Medical teams were seen preparing first aid kits after news of the group’s discovery broke outside the cave’s entrance.
The video below shows the Thai Football Team and their couch alive inside the cave.
Reported by Panu Wongcha-um for Reuters News.