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Navy SEAL Veteran Gives Life Trying To Save 12 Thai Boys Trapped in Flooded Cave

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It’s now been over two weeks since the 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a cave in Thailand. The group went in, not expecting anything more than a lively adventure.

But the rain soon started pouring down, and it trapped them deep within the bowels of the tunnel system.

The boys, who were ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were stuck. With no way to communicate or escape, they waited for days, hoping to be rescued.



The layout of the caves is what makes any rescue particularly risky — that and the fact that torrential rain has caused water levels to rise, blocking many of the escape routes.

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Even if sections of the tunnel weren’t completely underwater, some of the boys don’t even know how to swim.

One government official noted this, outlining what measures were being taken to prepare them for extraction.

“Now we are teaching the children to swim and dive,” he said. “Some of them can’t swim, so therefore it will take time for them to adjust.”


But with the temperamental monsoon season upon them, time is starting to run out. The assistant chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, Gary Mitchell, explained that the extraction would take some effort.

“We know from our own rescue team that got in there and found them that it’s a serious dive,” he said.

“It’s a kilometer of flooded passages and round about an hour-and-a-half worth of diving that involves stopping and changing air tanks.”

In an effort to aid their escape, an ex-SEAL named Samarn Poonan, who was 37, went in to place oxygen tanks along the way.

But he made a fatal error, and ran out of air himself even as he tried to provide it for the young men who’d been trapped. On July 6, he went unconscious and died as he tried to make his way out.

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It’s a very sad turn of events, but something that the ex-SEAL had been prepared for.

“We are trained to expect risks at anytime,” the SEAL commander, Arpakorn Yookongkaew said. “It’s part of the job … But even though we have lost one man, we still have faith to carry out our work.”

Fortunately, the first four children were escorted out on July 8, and close tabs are being kept on the remaining boys and their coach.

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