Authorities in Thailand now say all 12 teenagers — and their soccer coach — have been rescued from a mountain cave, and the last rescuer, a doctor who was treating the children as they came through the flooded passages, has left the operation site.
The daring rescue mission took more than 18 days, but all members of the “Wild Boars” soccer team are believed to be in good condition and responding well to medical treatment. Doctors say they are helping the boys through malnutrition, minor injuries, and the effects of time spent in an area with low oxygen levels.
By Monday night, eight boys had already been rescued from the caves. CBS News reports that the last four boys, and their 25-year-old coach, were pulled from the mountain pass early Tuesday morning.
The boys went missing more than two weeks ago after heading into a series of caves that criss-cross a Thailand mountain range. They intended only to explore, but were caught in a monsoon, and as interior lakes and crevices filled up around them, the boys moved further into the cave in search of higher ground. They were discovered last Monday, huddled on a plateau overlooking a deep cave lake.
Rescuers — members of Thailand’s Navy SEALS working in teams of two — brought the boys out of the caves on rescue missions that lasted between 9 and 11 hours each, three hours of which were spent underwater. One accomplished Thai Navy SEAL diver died last Thursday while on a mission to provide the trapped soccer team with food and supplies.
Tuesday morning, the divers expressed only relief.
“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the 13 Wild Boars are now out of the cave,” one of the SEALS told reporters. “Everyone is safe.”
Late Tuesday, the remaining rescuers — a small team of three Thai Navy SEALS and a doctor who had been treating the boys as they rested halfway through their escape — emerged from the caves, marking the end of the rescue mission. Ambulances ferried away the remaining cave survivors.
Residents of a nearby metropolis, Chiang Rai, gathered along the road between the caves and the city, cheering the soccer players and their medical teams as they made their way to a local hospital.