World rejoices as 12 Thai footballers, coach rescued from cave

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Students celebrate in front of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, where the 12 soccer players and their coach rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex are being treated, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 11, 2018. Source: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

AFTER 18 gruelling days, all 13 of the people trapped in Tham Luang Cave in northern Thailand were finally brought to safety on Tuesday.

“12 Wild Boars and their coach out of the cave. Everyone safe … Hooyah”, declared a post on the Thai NavySEAL Facebook page on Tuesday evening, the culmination of a mammoth international rescue effort.

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Four Thai Navy Seals are seen after leaving the cave safe during the rescue mission, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand July 10, 2018 in this photo obtained from social media. Source: Thai Navy Seal/via Reuters

“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave.”

SEE ALSO: Thai cave boys: the psychology of surviving underground

The plight of the junior football team, known as the Wild Boars, has captivated Thailand and people across the world for weeks.

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Boys from the under-16 soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave greet members of the Thai rescue team in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seals. Source: Thai Navy Seals handout via Reuters

The 12 boys and their coach became trapped on June 23 as they explored the cave and it flooded with heavy monsoonal rains.

Rescuers from countries including the UK, Australia, Denmark, Japan and Israel who helped bring the group to safety were cheered upon announcement the efforts had concluded successfully, and lauded by netizens worldwide.

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Onlookers wave as an ambulance carrying rescued schoolboys leaves a military airport in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018. Source: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

Iceland’s Prime Minsiter Katrín Jakobsdóttir was the first world leader to celebrate their successful rescue, tweeting that “hope, compassion, and courage has won.”

US President Donald Trump followed soon afterwards, calling it a “beautiful moment”, while UK Prime Minister Theresa May said “the world was watching and will be saluting the bravery of all those involved.”

Champion French footballer Paul Pogba dedicated his country’s 1-0 World Cup semi-final win against Belgium to the Wild Boars, who he called the “heroes of the day”.

The volunteers who helped out throughout the ordeal were also in for high praise – providing food, massages and other assistance to the rescuers.

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Volunteers react after hearing all boys were rescued from the Tham Luang cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 10, 2018. Source: Kyodo via Reuters

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Volunteers collect rubbish near Tham Luang cave complex, where 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach are trapped inside a flooded cave, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 7, 2018. Source: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

There were some tragic elements to the rescue, however.

Thai Navy SEAL Saman Gunan died last Friday after he ran out of oxygen and lost consciousness. He had been part of the team setting up air tanks along the escape route, which allowed the boys to subsequently get out alive.

“Every day before he left for work, we said we loved each other,” Gunan’s wife Waleeporn told BBC News in an interview. “Saman once said, he never knew when we would die. We can’t control that so we need to cherish every day.”

“He loved helping others, doing charity work, and getting things done.”

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk reaches Tham Luang cave, brings ‘mini-sub’ for rescue bid

Meanwhile, the father of Australian anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris passed away shortly after the rescue mission was declared a success.

“It is with great sadness that I confirm that Harry’s dad passed away last night a short time after the successful rescue operation in Thailand,” said a statement from Harris’ employer MedSTAR.

“This is clearly a time of grief for the Harris family, magnified by the physical and emotional demands of being part of this week’s highly complex and ultimately successful rescue operation.”