Tham Luang cave rescue

Tham Luang cave rescue
Rescue equipment in Tham Luang entrance chamber (cropped).jpg
Rescue personnel and equipment at the cave entrance
Date23 June – 10 July 2018
(18 days)
LocationTham Luang Nang Non cave, Mae Sai, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand[1]
Coordinates20°22′54″N 99°52′06″E / 20°22′54″N 99°52′06″E / 20.38167; 99.86833
TypeCave rescue
CauseMonsoon flooding[2]
OutcomeGroup found alive on 2 July; all rescued between 8 and 10 July 2018.[3][4][5]
Death(s)Saman Kunan, rescue diver[6]
Non-fatal injuriesMinor scrapes and cuts, mild rashes,[7][8] lung inflammation[9]
Location within Thailand

In June and July 2018, a widely publicised cave rescue successfully extricated members of a junior football team trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. Twelve members of the team, aged eleven to seventeen, and their 25-year-old assistant coach entered the cave on 23 June after football practice. Shortly afterwards, heavy rains partially flooded the cave, trapping the group inside.

Efforts to locate the group were hampered by rising water levels and strong currents, and no contact was made for more than a week. The rescue effort expanded into a massive operation amid intense worldwide public interest. On 2 July, after advancing through narrow passages and muddy waters, British divers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton found the group alive on an elevated rock about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the cave mouth. Rescue organisers discussed various options for extracting the group, including whether to teach them basic diving skills to enable their early rescue, wait until a new entrance was found or drilled, or wait for the floodwaters to subside at the end of the monsoon season months later. After days of pumping water from the cave system and a respite from rain, the rescue teams hastened to get everyone out before the next monsoon rain, which was expected to bring a potential 52 mm (2.0 in) of additional rainfall and was predicted to start around 11 July. Between 8 and 10 July, all of the boys and their coach were rescued from the cave by an international team.[10]

The rescue effort involved more than 10,000 people, including over 100 divers, many rescue workers, representatives from about 100 governmental agencies, 900 police officers and 2,000 soldiers, and required ten police helicopters, seven police ambulances, more than 700 diving cylinders, and the pumping of more than a billion litres of water out of the caves.

There was one fatality, Saman Kunan, a 37-year-old former Thai Navy SEAL who died of asphyxiation on 6 July while returning to a staging base in the cave after delivering supplies of air.


Doi Nang Non, "Mountain of the Sleeping Lady". When viewed from this angle, it is said to resemble a lady lying on her back.
Thai news report from NBT news (no subtitles)

Tham Luang Nang Non is a karstic cave complex beneath Doi Nang Non, a mountain range on the border between Thailand and Myanmar.[11] The system is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long and has many deep recesses, narrow passages and tunnels winding under hundreds of metres of limestone strata. Since part of the cave system is seasonally flooded, a sign advising against entering the caves during the rainy season (July–November) is posted at the entrance.[12]

On Saturday 23 June 2018, a group of twelve boys aged between 11 and 17 from a local junior football team named the Wild Boars and their 25-year-old assistant coach, Ekkaphon Chanthawong,[13] went missing after setting out to explore the cave. According to early news reports, they planned to have a birthday party in the cave after the football practice, and spent a significant sum of money on food, but they refuted this in a news conference after the rescue.[14] The team was stranded in the tunnels by sudden and continuous rainfall after they had entered the cave.[15] They had to leave some food supplies behind when fleeing the rising water.[16][17][18][19]

Around 7 p.m., head coach Nopparat Khanthawong (Thai: นพรัตน์ กัณฑะวงษ์) checked his phone, finding about twenty missed calls from parents worried that their children had not come home. Nopparat dialed assistant coach Chanthawong, followed by a number of the boys in quick succession. Eventually, he reached Songpon Kanthawong, a 13-year-old member of the team who mentioned he was picked up after practice, and that the rest of the boys had gone exploring in the Tham Luang caves. The coach raced up to the caves finding abandoned bicycles and bags near the entrance, with water seeping out of the muddy pathway.[20] He alerted authorities to the missing group after seeing their unclaimed belongings.[21]

The members of the trapped team were as follows:[18][22]

Name (RTGS) Informal name Age Comments
Chanin Wibunrungrueang Titan 11
Phanumat Saengdi Mig 13
Duangphet Phromthep Dom 13 Team captain.[22]
Somphong Chaiwong Pong 13
Mongkhon Bunpiam Mark 13 Rescued in first mission.[23] Stateless.[24]
Natthawut Thakhamsong Tern 14 Rescued in first mission.[25]
Ekkarat Wongsukchan Bew 14
Adun Sam-on 14 Only English-language speaker; communicated with initial rescue party.[22] Stateless.[24][26]
Prachak Sutham Note 15 Rescued in first mission.[23]
Phiphat Phothi Nick 15 Rescued in first mission.[25]
Phonchai Khamluang Tee 16 Stateless.[24][26]
Phiraphat Somphiangchai Night 16–17 Celebrated his birthday while in the cave.[19]
Ekkaphon Chanthawong Ake 25 Assistant coach and former monk.[22] Stateless.[24][26] Ninth to be rescued.[27]

The assistant coach and three of the boys had no nationality. Nopparat Khanthavong, the founder of the Wild Boars team, explained that they are from tribes in an area that extends across Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and China. This region has no clear borders and people are not assigned passports. Their statelessness deprived them of basic benefits and rights, including the possibility to leave the Chiang Rai province. "To get nationality is the biggest hope for the boys", Khanthavong said. "In the past, these boys have problems traveling to play matches outside of Chiang Rai because of their nationless status."[28] Following the team's rescue, Thai officials promised to provide the three boys and the coach with legal assistance in obtaining Thai citizenship, a process which they said could take up to six months.[29] On 26 September, the boys and the coach were granted Thai citizenship.[30]

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Penyelamatan gua Tham Luang
Simple English: Tham Luang cave rescue