For more than a week, the world has watched in horror as a Thai soccer team and their coach waited patiently and desperately for rescue after becoming trapped in a flooded cave.

Seventeen is the total number of days that 25-year-old soccer coach Ekkapol Ake Chantawong was trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. Twelve is the number of young soccer players (ages 11–16) who were with him. One is the number of casualties — a former Thai Navy SEAL who ran out of air while heroically diving and delivering oxygen tanks to replenish the boys’ quickly depleting air supply. Twenty-nine is the total number of hours it took to complete three separate rescue missions. And 13 is the number who survived.

The last five people who were trapped in the cave (four boys and the coach) were successfully rescued on Tuesday, July 10, after being trapped for 17 days — since they set off to go exploring after soccer practice on June 23. British divers found the boys and their coach (all of whom had been presumed dead) a little over a week ago, on Monday, July 2, approximately two miles deep inside the cave.

Courtesy of CNN

Professional divers and experts from all over the world quickly descended upon the cave to rush the boys supplies (three SEALS and a medic stayed with them) and create a route of escape. 

Finally, on July 8, the first four boys were taken to safety in a rescue operation that lasted 11 hours. Four more boys followed on July 9 in a nine-hour operation, with the remaining five being rescued on July 10 (also nine hours) with the assistance of 19 rescue divers. The SEALS and medic followed a few hours later.

The coach and all the boys are being treated at a hospital and are being kept in isolation to avoid the risk of infection. All had low body temperatures, and they are expected to remain in the hospital for another week.

The rescues are particularly amazing since there had been concerns about monsoon rains flooding the caverns even further. Because many of the boys didn’t know how to swim, officials had thrown around a variety of possibilities: try to drill down to them from above, find another entrance to the cave in the heavily wooded area, and even leave them there for a few months until the monsoon season had subsided.

In the end, worried that the cave waters would just get higher with more rain, divers taught the boys to scuba dive, then embarked on a tricky, carefully-planned mission to lead them out to safety.

Courtesy of CNN

What an astounding, inspiring story of teamwork that transcends all cultures, nations, languages, and walks of life! Now the only remaining question is when does the movie come out?? 😉 We are absolutely thrilled with the overall outcome, though — of course — extremely saddened for the family of the diver who heroically gave his life for these boys.

What do you think? Have you been following along with this riveting story? Leave a comment below!

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