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Tham Luang cave, Thailand (CNN)The Wild Boars are back. Twelve young boys and their soccer coach are safe, freed from the floods in a labyrinthine set of caves in northern Thailand where they had been trapped in for more than two weeks. The mood in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province is elated.

 

When a Thai military unit had finished dismantling a section of water pumps that had proved so crucial in the successful operation, they jumped into their open-topped vehicle near the Tham Luang caves on Wednesday, smiling triumphantly to the crowd of cheering supporters who had stayed on to give their heroes a proper send off. But behind those jubilant scenes lay the knowledge that each one of those rescue workers carries: the near three-week operation had rested on a knife’s edge, with equal chance of success or disaster. Now, with the mission over and the boys recovering in the hospital, the full story of the remarkable rescue can be told.

The early challenges

In the days after the boys first went missing, rescuers had no idea where they were, or if they were still alive. Expert divers from the Thai Navy SEALs, experienced in conventional diving situations, were faced with an unprecedented challenge. Speaking to CNN on Wednesday, Thai Navy SEAL commander Rear Adm. Arpakorn Yookongkaew recalled those initial challenges.

 

The task seemed hopeless, but that didn’t stop local officials from mobilizing a team of 110 Thai SEALs, hundreds of soldiers and other volunteers, determined to find the boys and bring them back. Rain and the long winding caverns of an unfamiliar cave were already a concern. On first assessment of the scene, “our hope to find the boys was less,” he said.
Read more…  The task seemed hopeless, but that didn’t stop local officials from mobilizing a team of 110 Thai SEALs.
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The task seemed hopeless, but that didn’t stop local officials from mobilizing a team of 110 Thai SEALs, hundreds of soldiers and other volunteers, determined to find the boys and bring them back. Rain and the long winding caverns of an unfamiliar cave were already a concern. On first assessment of the scene, “our hope to find the boys was less,” he said.