Humanity is really in need of a win right now (see Donald Trump tag) and we got one in the form of a bunch of international experts banding together to save 12 boys (aged 11 to 16) and their soccer coach who were stranded in a flooded cave in Thailand. The world watched with bated breath as authorities searched for the boys, found them more than 2 km down a twisty, narrow underwater tunnel and extracted them over the course of three days. In the end, all the boys and their 25-year-old coach were unharmed except for minor infections and malnutrition (although, unfortunately, Thai Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan gave up his life for the mission).
In the days after the rescue, the boys were kept quarantined to recover and prevent the spread of infection, but video showed them in good spirits and waving to their family members through a glass partition.
— Channel NewsAsia (@ChannelNewsAsia) July 11, 2018
A week later (and a day earlier than anticipated) the boys are all healed up and ready to leave the hospital. They also appeared before their adoring public to discuss how they survived for nine days with no supplies, why they entered the cave in the first place and their excitement to make it out for the World Cup — they are a soccer team after all.
This will put a smile on your face! Members of that soccer team rescued from a Thai cave are playing soccer this morning after being released from the hospital. pic.twitter.com/vQ4kVbNP8I
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 18, 2018
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 18, 2018
Coach Ekapol Chanthawong — who helped the boys remain calm throughout the ordeal by leading them in Buddhist meditation — explained that he and the boys had planned to only spend an hour in the cave ahead of practice since some of the boys had been there before and wanted to return. He said that water levels in the cave were normal when they entered but quickly rose while they were exploring.
Ekapol and the boys also shared how they survived for more than a week with no food — drinking cave water and trying “not to think about food like fried rice.” Fourteen year-old Adul Sam-on — who speaks English — described the incredible moment two volunteer British divers finally discovered them deep in the cave.
“It was magical,” he said, “I had to think a lot before I could answer their questions. Everybody was happy, it was the most hopeful moment in 10 days.”
“Once we heard their noise, we went down (near the water) and they greeted us, ‘Hello, is anyone there?'” one boy said of the moment his soccer team and their coach were found after being stranded for weeks in a flooded Thai cave. pic.twitter.com/Rtw69RyDS7
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) July 18, 2018
— Chaskel Bennett (@ChaskelBennett) July 8, 2018
Once they were found, the boys quickly bonded with the divers who treated them and brought them supplies in the week it took to figure out how to get them through the tunnels and back out of the cave. Some of them were even eager to stay with the divers and let other boys be rescued first.
The boys attended the press conference in brand new soccer uniforms and kicked a ball around the stage for a bit. When asked, the boys said that they watched the World Cup final on the weekend and had cheered on France to victory. Their doctors confirmed to reporters that the boys are now ready “emotionally and physically” to return to “normal life.”
Before they went home, the boys and coach paid tribute to the Navy SEAL who died returning to the surface after bringing the group supplies and oxygen down in the cave. They shared that some of them are considering becoming temporary Buddhist monks in his honour.
Finally, some news we can feel hopeful about.