All 12 boys and their football coach have been successfully rescued from a cave in northern Thailand after more than two weeks trapped underground.
“The 12 Wild Boars and coach have emerged from the cave and they are safe,” the Thai navy Seal unit said on its official Facebook page. “Hooyah.”
The final day of the operation began just after 10am on Tuesday as the first eight boys, freed in operations on Sunday and Monday, recuperated at a hospital in the nearest city, Chiang Rai.
The “Wild Boars” soccer team and their coach got trapped on June 23 while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai after soccer practice and a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.
British divers found the 13, hungry and huddled in darkness on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber last week.
Torrential rain struck the site on Monday evening and it continued through into the morning, but authorities said preparations for the final rescue mission were unaffected.
“You have seen the rain so you might be wondering – preparation for the third operation has been under way since early morning,” said Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the operation.
“If everything goes right, we will see four kids and a doctor and three Seals that have stayed with the kids will all come out,” he said. “Four plus one coach, so it’s five.”
The perilous rescue had gripped the world but celebrations will be tinged with sadness over the loss of a former Thai navy diver who died on Friday while on a re-supply mission inside the cave.