Boys rescued from cave mourn diver who died

Boys rescued from cave mourn diver who died

Kerry Wise
July 16, 2018

The intricate, high-risk operation which rescued the boys involved 19 divers, a medic and three Thai Navy SEALs who have stayed with the boys on a small, dry shelf deep in the flooded cave.

But the lead-up to the final phase of the mission was met with tragedy when volunteer and Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan, a former Seal member, died on July 6 while installing oxygen tanks along the twisting passageways of the cave.

He has since been hailed as a hero around the world.

The 12 boys ages 12-17 and their 25-year-old coach had gone exploring after a practice June 23, but heavy rains flooded the cave and trapped them more than 2.5 miles from the entrance.

Photos showed the "Wild Boars" football team, who are being monitored in hospital, gathered solemnly around a picture of the diver.

He said the boys were "ecstatic" when the two divers appeared in front of the ledge where they had sought sanctuary, crowding to the front of the bank to greet their rescuers.

All 13 were brought to safety in a perilous rescue organised by Thai Navy SEALs and an worldwide team of cave-diving experts.

Mum's the word at the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.

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They will be watched for signs of psychological distress, which may only become evident in the months to come.

The boys - and their parents -have been advised to spend time with friends and family and not to give media interviews as that could trigger post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

The world soccer governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association had invited the boys and their coach to attend the final in Moscow but they cannot go for medical reasons.

The three-day, worldwide rescue operation was successful, and the boys are being held in quarantine while they recover from minor injuries and regain their strength.

Some of the specialists have expressed shock that Saman, 38, was the only person killed in the perilous venture.

However, in the aftermath of the fearless rescue effort, Lieutenant Commander Saman's widow, Valeepoan Kunan, said: "I want to tell the boys, please don't blame yourselves". "He loved helping others, doing charity work and getting things done".

About 4,000 volunteers were on Sunday taking part in a clean-up of the area around the Tham Luang cave.

Authorities have closed the cave for now but hope to reopen it later as a tourist attraction - with sufficient safeguards in place to make sure no one gets trapped again.