It’s a miracle!

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The last four Thai Navy SEALs give their thumbs up as they emerge safely after completing the rescued mission inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach had been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. Thailand’s navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued, ending an ordeal that gripped the world as it lasted more than two weeks. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)
The last four Thai Navy SEALs give their thumbs up as they emerge safely after completing the rescued mission inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach had been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. Thailand’s navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued, ending an ordeal that gripped the world as it lasted more than two weeks. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)

Daring rescue saves all 12 boys & soccer coach from treacherous cave

Mae Sai, Thailand (AP) – A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in Thailand has saved the 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending an 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world.

Richard Stanton, left, and John Volanthen arrive in Mae Sai Tuesday, July 3. The two British divers first found the 12 boys and soccer coach on Monday, July 2. They recorded video of the boys talking with them. (AP Photo)
Richard Stanton, left, and John Volanthen arrive in Mae Sai Tuesday, July 3. The two British divers first found the 12 boys and soccer coach on Monday, July 2. They recorded video of the boys talking with them. (AP Photo)

The leader of Thailand’s cave rescue says the medic, 3 SEALs who stayed with the boys also made it out of the cave.

Thailand’s Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue effort, said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely Tuesday. Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of 18 Thai and international divers on Sunday and Monday.

“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave,” the SEALs said, referring to the name of the boys’ soccer team. “Everyone is safe.”

Cheers erupted at a local government office where dozens of volunteers and journalists were awaiting news of whether the intricate and high-risk rescue mission had succeeded. Helicopters taking the boys to a hospital roared overhead.

Payap Maiming, 40, who helped provide food and necessities to rescue workers and journalists, said a “miracle” had happened.

“I’m happy for Thais all over the country, for the people of Mae Sai, and actually just everyone in the world because every news channel has presented this story and this is what we have been waiting for,” she said. “It’s really a miracle. It’s hope and faith that has brought us this success.”

The plight of the boys and their coach has captivated Thailand and much of the world – from the heart-sinking news that they were missing to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers. They were trapped in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave on June 23, when they were exploring it after a soccer practice and it became flooded by monsoon rains.

In this image made from video, Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn speaks to the media during a briefing on the cave rescue plans. (AP Photo)
In this image made from video, Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn speaks to the media during a briefing on the cave rescue plans. (AP Photo)

Each of the boys, ages 11 to 16 and with no diving experience, was guided out by a pair of divers in three days of intricate and high-stakes operations. The route, in some places just a crawl space, had oxygen canisters positioned at regular intervals to refresh each team’s air supply.

Highlighting the dangers, a former Thai navy SEAL died Friday while replenishing the canisters.

Cave diving experts had warned it was potentially too risky to dive the youngsters out.

Thai soldiers searching for the missing children and their coach march out of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai on Friday, June 29. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai soldiers searching for the missing children and their coach march out of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai on Friday, June 29. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

But Thai officials, acutely aware that the boys could be trapped for months by monsoon rains that would swell waters in the cave system, seized a window of opportunity provided by relatively mild weather. A massive water pumping effort also made the winding cave more navigable. The confidence of the diving team, and expertise specific to the cave, grew after its first successful mission.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, speaking before the final rescue was completed, said the boys were given anti-anxiety medication to help with their perilous removal from the cave.

Thai rescuers prepare for diving July 3, after the 12 boys and their soccer coach were found alive. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai rescuers prepare for diving July 3, after the 12 boys and their soccer coach were found alive. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Asked at a weekly press conference Tuesday if the boys had been sedated, Prayuth said: “Who would chloroform them? If they’re chloroformed, how could they come out? It’s called anxiolytic, something to make them not excited, not stressed.”

Prayuth said the Tham Luan Nang Non cave would be closed for some time to make it safe for visitors.

The eight boys brought out by divers on Sunday and Monday were doing well and were in good spirits, a senior health official said. There were given a treat Tuesday: bread with chocolate spread that they’d requested.

Australian Federal Police and Defense Force personnel on Thursday, July 5, talk about extraction plans to get the 12 boys and their soccer coach out of the flooded cave. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
Australian Federal Police and Defense Force personnel on Thursday, July 5, talk about extraction plans to get the 12 boys and their soccer coach out of the flooded cave. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued were able to eat normal food, though they couldn’t yet take the spicy dishes favored by many Thais.

Two of the boys possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally “healthy and smiling,” he said.

“The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems,” Jedsada said. “Everyone is in high spirits and are happy to get out. But we will have a psychiatrist to evaluate them.”

International rescuers prepare to enter the cave on Thursday, July 5. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
International rescuers prepare to enter the cave on Thursday, July 5. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

It could be at least seven days before they can be released from the hospital, Jedsada told a news conference.

Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass isolation barrier.

It was clear doctors were taking a cautious approach. Jedsada said they were uncertain what type of infections the boys could face “because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave.”

If medical tests showed no dangers, after another two days, parents would be able to enter the isolation area dressed in sterilized clothing and staying 2 meters away from the boys, said Tosthep Bunthong, a public health official.

John Tangkitcharoen­thawon, a local village chairman who was working as a volunteer translator for the tourist police, was bursting with happiness at the successful rescue.

“If this place had a roof, the morale has gone straight through it,” he said.

President Donald Trump joined those paying tribute to the rescuers.

“On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the Thai Navy SEALs and all on the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from the treacherous cave in Thailand,” he tweeted.

He added: “Such a beautiful moment – all freed, great job!”

This photo tweeted by Elon Musk shows rescue efforts underway. Musk tweeted early Tuesday, July 10, he visited the cave and left a mini-submarine there for future use. (Courtesy of Elon Musk via AP)
This photo tweeted by Elon Musk shows rescue efforts underway. Musk tweeted early Tuesday, July 10, he visited the cave and left a mini-submarine there for future use. (Courtesy of Elon Musk via AP)
Thai rescue teams arrange the water pumping system at the entrance to the flooded cave complex on 7 July. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)
Thai rescue teams arrange the water pumping system at the entrance to the flooded cave complex on 7 July. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)
Rescue personnel search for the missing children and their coach on Wednesday, June 27. (Thailand Department of National Parks and Wildlife via AP, File)
Rescue personnel search for the missing children and their coach on Wednesday, June 27. (Thailand Department of National Parks and Wildlife via AP, File)
Thai rescue teams walk through rushing water inside the cave complex July 2. (Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP, File)
Thai rescue teams walk through rushing water inside the cave complex July 2. (Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP, File)
Family members pray in front of a Buddhist statue near the cave July 7, where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Family members pray in front of a Buddhist statue near the cave July 7, where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Buddhist monks pray Sunday, July 1, for the 12 boys and their soccer coach. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
Buddhist monks pray Sunday, July 1, for the 12 boys and their soccer coach. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
In this July 3, 2018, image taken from video provided by the Royal Thai Navy Facebook Page, the boys smile as a Thai Navy SEAL medic helps the injured shortly after they were found. (Royal Thai Navy Facebook Page via AP)
In this July 3, 2018, image taken from video provided by the Royal Thai Navy Facebook Page, the boys smile as a Thai Navy SEAL medic helps the injured shortly after they were found. (Royal Thai Navy Facebook Page via AP)
Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, center, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, speaks during a press conference at a hospital in Chiang Rai July 10. Thai health officials say the rescued boys will be staying in hospital at least seven days. The boys are in “high spirits” and have strong immune systems because they are soccer players, he said. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, center, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, speaks during a press conference at a hospital in Chiang Rai July 10. Thai health officials say the rescued boys will be staying in hospital at least seven days. The boys are in “high spirits” and have strong immune systems because they are soccer players, he said. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
In this grab taken from video provided by the Chiang Rai Public Relations Office, emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boys to be transported by ambulance to hospital in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Sunday, July 8. (Chiang Rai Public Relations Office via AP)
In this grab taken from video provided by the Chiang Rai Public Relations Office, emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boys to be transported by ambulance to hospital, on Sunday, July 8. (Chiang Rai Public Relations Office via AP)
In this grab taken from video provided by the Chiang Rai Public Relations Office, emergency workers carry a stretcher with one of the rescued boys to be transported by ambulance to hospital, on Sunday, July 8. (Chiang Rai Public Relations Office via AP)
Two ambulances with flashing lights leave the cave rescue area. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Two ambulances with flashing lights leave the cave rescue area. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A helicopter believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys departs for the hospital Tuesday, July 10. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
A helicopter believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys departs for the hospital Tuesday, July 10. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)