Thai cave drama: Five rescues that defied the odds

2018-07-11 22:23

The dramatic mission to save 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand captivated global attention and sparked an outpouring of joy when the young team emerged safe and sound.

The Wild Boars squad, aged 11 to 16, had entered the Tham Luang cave on June 23 with their 25-year-old coach, but a sudden downpour flooded the complex and trapped them inside.

Nine days later British divers found the group, dishevelled and hungry, on a ledge 4km from the entrance and surrounded by murky water.

A worldwide audience followed every twist and turn of the week-long operation by cave divers, survival specialists and medics as they raced against rising waters to get the boys out.

The death of a retired Thai Navy SEAL underlined the difficulty of the operation.

But sorrow turned to joy as the team were brought out in groups of four or five, and by Tuesday night they were recovering in hospital.

Here are some other amazing rescues that also ended happily despite enormous obstacles.

French cave, 1999

On November 22, 1999, rescuers reached seven men who had been trapped in a cave system in southwest France for 10 days.

The men, all experienced cavers, became trapped in the caves at Vitarelles when heavy storms caused flooding, cutting them off from the exits.

The unprecedented rescue mission riveted France, with experts drilling multiple shafts into the rock in a bid to find the men.

They eventually reached them after squeezing into one of the shafts and following an underground river.

The men had carefully rationed their food and still had enough water and lighting gas for two days when they were rescued. All were in good health.

Russian submarine, 2005

The seven-man crew of a Russian Priz mini-submarine were running out of air after three days trapped under water when they were finally rescued.

Their submarine became entangled in marine debris on August 4, 2005, and the Russian crew was powerless to move from the position around 190m below the ocean surface.

The incident immediately drew comparisons with Russia's Kursk submarine accident five years earlier, which ended in tragedy with the deaths of all 118 crew.

But the Priz crew were rescued after a British undersea robot cut the vessel free.

Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded medals to the British team who rescued the submarine crew and Moscow announced it would purchase several of the type of underwater robots used in the rescue.

Chilean miners, 2010

The plight of 33 men trapped in a Chilean mine 600m underground after a rock collapse on August 5, 2010, captured international headlines.

The men had been virtually given up for dead when a probe sent down through a narrow borehole struck lucky, 17 days later.

The men had been surviving on dwindling rations, with just 15 cans of tuna between them, said survivor Franklin Lobos.

"We ate a teaspoon of it every 24 hours, then every 48 hours and finally we were eating a teaspoon every 72 hours. It was horrible."

Even after the men were located and supplies were sent to them, it took weeks before rescuers were finally able to bring the miners to the surface.

In all, their ordeal lasted nearly 70 days.

Miners in Peru, 2012

Nine miners, including a father and son, spent seven days trapped underground after a cave-in in southern Peru on April 7, 2012.

Rescuers led the men out wrapped in blankets and wearing dark glasses to protect their eyes after so many days without sunlight.

The rescue operation at the illegal mine was hampered by fears of additional collapses as rescuers dug through rock and soil.

Huddled in an opening 250m underground, the men joked and exercised to pass the time and stay positive.

"This moment, it's like being reborn," said one of the rescued men after a tearful reunion with his family.

German cave, 2014

More than 700 emergency personnel worked to rescue Johann Westhauser after he sustained a serious head injury deep inside a German cave system on June 8, 2014.

The 52-year-old was with two other people when a rockfall caused the head injury. One made the hours-long walk back to the surface to raise the alarm, while the other stayed with Westhauser.

His injury made it impossible for him to move, and rescue workers and medical professionals from five countries worked to medically evacuate him from a spot 1 000m below ground.

His rescuers battled dangerous conditions and near-freezing temperatures as they methodically negotiated a treacherous network of tunnels and chambers, underground lakes and ice-cold waterfalls.

He was eventually hauled out of the cave system on a stretcher 11 days after being injured, in an operation local officials said had seemed "simply impossible".

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    thailand  |  thailand cave rescue
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.