The anxious world heaved a great sigh of relief after the successful completion of reportedly the largest, most complex cave rescue in history.
It was truly a beautiful moment when, on Tuesday, the rescue team extracted the remaining four young Thai football boys and their 25-year-old coach safely from a cave in northern Thailand and thus brought an end to a massive operation that has captured headlines for more than two weeks.
Earlier, in two expeditions on Sunday and Monday, eight of the 12-member youth football team, who became trapped inside the cave on June 23, when floodwaters caused by heavy monsoon rains blocked the entrance, were brought back from the cave.
We congratulate the Thai navy SEALs, who played a central part in the rescue effort, the leading divers from around the world and everyone else involved in the rescue operation for making this miraculous task possible in such a short time.
When the boys and their coach were found disheveled and emaciated on a muddy ledge about four kilometers inside the complex cave system after nine days of getting trapped there, the rescue authorities were at a loss.
It took days for them to decide on how the football team should be extracted from the cave, with no attractive options available, and many thought it could take months to take the boys out.
But as oxygen levels inside were depleting, waiting for water levels to drop until they could walk out could only brought calamitous consequences. Amid such pressure, a high-risk rescue operation involving elite divers got under way on Sunday and the perilous operation completed successfully in a matter of just three days.
We also salute the gallantry of the young footballers, who did not lose hope during the torturous hours inside the deep and dark cave.The rescued boys are now in hospital for assessment. We wish them earliest recovery from their ordeal.
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