Cave survivors on the road to recovery
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 7/11/18, 12:14 pm
The 12 members of a Thai soccer team and their coach who survived 18 days in a flooded cave in northern Thailand are recuperating in a hospital but are mostly in good health, officials said. They lost weight but had access to fresh water and “took care of themselves well in the cave,” said Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, a public health inspector. A few of the boys and their coach have lung infections and will require additional medical treatment. The group is being cared for together in a hospital isolation ward. A video released by the Thai government shows the boys wearing green surgical masks and flashing the victory sign to the camera, while their overjoyed parents watched and waved to them from behind glass in an adjoining room.
Heavy rainfall that led to flooding trapped the team and their coach in the cave on June 23, when they went exploring after a practice game. Master Sgt. Derek Anderson, a 32-year-old rescue specialist with the U.S. Air Force based in Okinawa, Japan, led a U.S. team that provided technical assistance for the rescue effort. He said the evacuation involved about 100 people inside the cave, with dozens of people attending to each boy. He said divers practiced their techniques in a swimming pool with local children of the same height and weight as the trapped boys. As they passed through the narrow passageways in the cave, the boys sometimes journeyed through rocky sections and places so narrow only one diver could escort each one.
“The world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue that I think has never been done before,” said Anderson, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., who grew up in Ecuador as the son of Assembly of God missionaries. “We were extremely fortunate that the outcome was the way it was.”
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.