The Thai Navy Seals confirmed that all 12 boys and their coach have now been rescued from Tham Luan Cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand after being trapped for 17 days. Thai Navy Seal Samarn Gunan gave his life in the rescue effort after swimming through miles of dark water to deliver oxygen tanks to the trapped boys and coach.
All the boys are safe, and their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, kept them calm and alive during their ordeal. The coach, who had lived as a Buddhist monk for a decade, led the boys in traditional meditation to keep them calm. Coach Ekapol reportedly refused any of the food that was available while they were in the cave, instead giving it all to the boys. The coach is now rescued as well and resting comfortably, and no major health problems have been seen in the coach or the boys, whose team is known as the “Wild Boars.”
The boys were eventually found about 2.5 miles into the cave, and divers had to navigate narrow passages to reach them. In some areas, the passage was too narrow to even allow rescuers to wear their SCUBA tanks.
The untold story is the heartwarming coming-together of ordinary people from all walks of life, from near and far, to help the trapped boys as well as to offer assistance, support, food and water to those involved in the rescue. We put aside our differences, our nationalities and our religions for a time, everyone dedicated to a common goal.
Informal reports in Thai language social media tell of people coming from hundreds of miles, from the distant southern border of the country, and from all of Southeast Asia to lend a hand – ordinary folks setting up cooking stations to make sure everyone there offering their help has plenty to eat. A local pizza restaurant understood that the Westerners probably would not be accustomed to the unusual cuisine of northern Thailand, and they sent pizzas. Folks from the Shan State in Myanmar sent food and assistance. All were welcome, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians alike.
Nearby farmers volunteered their land, allowing the excess water being pumped out of the cave to flow onto their farmland.
People from all over the world joined in, from sending food, moral support, and best wishes, to big-ticket items like Elon Musk’s mini-submarine, which he named “Wild Boar” after the children’s soccer team.
In an interesting twist of serendipity, Thai rock star Toon Bodyslam, who earlier carried out an epic 55-day charity run to raise money for hospitals, helped to fund one of the very hospitals in Chiang Rai where the young boys are now being cared for. Toon’s real name is Artiwara Kongmalai – and his first name means “Wild Boar” in Sanskrit.
As a special treat, the boys have been invited by Manchester United via a Facebook post to visit them in Old Trafford in the coming season.
The world owes a debt of thanks to all the people who joined in the rescue effort, for helping bring the boys to safety – and for showing us that yes, it is possible for people to come together to accomplish something great.