Thai cave rescue: All 12 boys, soccer coach freed from cave

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Tham Luang caves, Thailand (CNN)The last remaining member of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach have been pulled out of a flooded cave in Thailand, bringing an end to a near three-week ordeal that prompted a huge international rescue effort.

The twelfth boy and his coach were the last of the team to be rescued Tuesday, after a complicated three-day operation to extricate the team, who became trapped on June 23 when rising flood water cut off the exit, deep inside the cave.

In the last 18 days, what began as a local search for the missing 13 turned into a complex rescue operation, involving hundreds of experts who flew in from around the world to help.

The parents of the boys have maintained a constant vigil outside the cave since they went missing, praying for their safe return.

The drama has captivated people worldwide as cave experts grappled with the problem of how to free the young, malnourished boys, some of whom couldn’t swim, from a flooded cavern as monsoon rains threatened to raise water levels even further.

The final boy and his coach rescued Tuesday are still being treated at an on-site medical center, while three other boys have been transported to a nearby hospital where eight of their teammates are recuperating after being rescued Sunday and Monday.

A small number of Navy SEALs, including a doctor who stayed with the team for a week after their discovery, remain in the cave system and are expected to emerge soon.

“Waiting for four more Thai Navy SEALs (to come out of the cave) who have been accompanying the kids. Please send your support to them,” says a post on their official Facebook site.

Another post, confirming the rescue of all 13 stranded members of the team, said: “We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave.”

Nineteen divers entered the cave at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday (11 p.m. Monday ET), many on their third mission in three days, with the aim of bringing everyone inside the cave out.

Tuesday’s rescue took nine hours in total, from the time the divers entered the cave to bringing out the boys and their coach.

CNN