Thai Cave Rescue:
A Timeline of Events
By Therese Aseoche
(Updated July 10, 11 P.M.) For weeks, we’ve followed the nerve-wracking search-and-rescue operations of a Thai soccer team, The Wild Boars, and their coach trapped inside a cave due to heavy rains. Here is a timeline of events from when they were first reported missing on June 23rd, Saturday, until the successful emergence of the first four boys out of the cave on July 8, Sunday.
June 23: Trapped
On June 23, the 12 boys — all aged 16 and below — and their 25-year-old coach had been practicing football when they thought of exploring the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Northern Thailand despite warnings of danger especially during the monsoon season. It happened before; visitors would get stuck by rising waters inside the cave.
As heavy rains began to pour, flood waters started gushing in through the cave and blocking the team’s only exit, and trapping them almost 3 kilometers deep inside.
June 24: Initial search attempts
The boys were reported missing when they failed to return home that night, and local officials began their search. They eventually found their bicycles locked to a fence and the kids’ shoes and football equipment near the entrance of the cave. Park officials and police also found fresh handprints and footprints around the cave that were believed to belong to the team members, and it sparked suspicion that they must have retreated far into the cave as they became surrounded by rising floodwater.
June 25: Major search operations begin
Starting June 25, major search and rescue operations were made with Thai Navy Seal divers entering the cave carrying food and supplies for the trapped victims. However, they couldn’t get far enough due to the rushing floodwaters and had to retreat.
June 27: US Military, British diving experts, and more join the operations
By the fourth day, a team of more than 30 American military personnel from the US Pacific Command, along with 17 US air force rescue, three British diving experts, and experts from different countries — including a Thailand-based Filipino rock climber — arrive to lend a hand. However, continuous heavy flooding made it difficult for them to take swift action.
As water pumps are brought into the cave to drain out the rising floodwaters, the volunteers and experts scour around the mountainous area for other options to evacuate the boys. One of the initial options being considered was to drill right through an area of the mountain. However, the idea was quickly scrapped on account of the amount of effort, time, and resources it would cost.
Days go by and the divers and rescuers continue to search deep inside the cave complex under the mercy of the weather conditions.