How Many People Died in the Thailand Cave Rescue?

March 18, 2024

12 members of the Wild Boars boys’ football team and their 25-year-old coach entered a cave in northern Thailand on June 23 to practice and ended up becoming trapped inside as heavy rain caused flooding. A huge rescue operation ensued, involving thousands of people from army special forces, national and international cave diving experts and others. It was a race against time as monsoon rains were forecast to flood the cave system again and force the group deeper into its warren of narrow passageways, where they could easily drown.

The boys and their coach were found alive on 2 July after a fraught search by British divers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, who eventually located them beyond the cave’s entrance. The world reacted with awe and relief as they were brought out of the cave one by one over three days, smiling, joking and knocking around their soccer balls.

But while the boys were rescued safely, two Thai divers lost their lives during the rescue effort. Saman Kunan, a retired SEAL who’d volunteered for the rescue, died from lack of oxygen while placing air tanks in the cave, and another SEAL, Beirut Pakbara, contracted a blood infection during the rescue and later died of his illness in late 2019.

Kiatisuk Senamuang, the founder of the foundation that helped Duangpetch secure his football scholarship to England, says he was a polite and kind boy who dreamed of playing for Thailand. “Rest well Dom, we all miss you,” he said.


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