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It's been 3 years since Thai soccer team was trapped in a cave

The world watched for two weeks as rescue professionals in Thailand worked hard to save the confined team.
Credit: Linh Pham
Twelve boys and their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, from the 'Wild Boars' soccer team speak during a press conference for the first time since they were rescued from a cave in northern Thailand.

Wednesday marks three years since a flood trapped members of Thailand's Wild Boars soccer team after they entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23, 2018. 

It was an entrapment that captivated the world for more than two weeks.

Police, local authorities and rescue workers quickly began searching for the group of 12 boys, aged 11-16, and their coach Ekapol Chantawong, 25, who entered the cave that evening.

According to the Associated Press, the heavy rainstorm flooded a stream at the cave’s entrance to the point where the group couldn't get out. 

Police Col. Komsan Saardluan told AP that parts of the cave, which is an estimated 4-5 miles long, got flooded to a height of as much as 16.5 feet during the rainy season, which runs from June through October. 

The team finally was located about 10 days later by British divers. Members of the Thai military and other rescuers had to consider what would be best: removing the team right away or keeping them in place but providing food and a supply of fresh air.

“What was really important was the coach and the boys all came together and discussed staying strong, having the will to live, having the will to survive,” Derek Anderson, a 32-year-old rescue specialist with the U.S. Air Force, told The Associated Press in an interview. 

Anderson said, "The cave was dry when we arrived, and within an hour and a half, it had already filled up by 2 to 3 feet and we were being pushed out.”  

Mild weather gave rescuers the chance to initiate the beginning of a highly anticipated and risky rescue.

On July 8, 2018, divers rescued four boys one-by-one. The next, day four more were assisted out of the cave and on the following day, the four last boys, including their coach, resurfaced.

One player recalled being startled when the first rescue diver arrived on the 10th day of the odyssey. 

“It was magical,” said Adul Samon, 14.

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