IT’S OVER!: All 12 soccer players, coach have exited cave

An ambulance transporting alleged members of the children’s football team approaches the hospital in the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai on July 10, 2018 after being rescued in Tham Luang cave. AFP PHOTO / LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA

The words that seemed impossible barely more than a week ago were just published on the social media account of Thailand’s Navy SEALs.

“12 Wild Boars and coach are out of the cave. All are safe.”

The message continues: “At the moment, we’re waiting to welcome four frog folks,” a reference to a doctor and three trained SEALs who had willingly spent several days with the boys in the cave awaiting their extraction.

The news that the last of the boys and their coach, trapped for 18 days inside flooded Luang Cave in Chiang Rai province, caps a wild two weeks that has seen the attention of the entire world focused on this tiny area of northern Thailand.

Following the surprise decision to begin the rescue operation on Sunday, when four boys were first escorted through the treacherous underwater route, the operation had been surprisingly swift.

Four more followed yesterday, and today, the remaining four boys and their coach made the same journey to freedom.

On Friday, following the death of former Navy SEAL Samarn Kunan, the realistic chances of this happening appeared slim from the outside looking in, but with rains subsiding, Thai authorities decided on Sunday that the window of opportunity was too great to pass up.

The newest, and last, of the soccer team to be extracted will now presumably join their teammates at Prachanukroh hospital, where medical staff told reporters today that all those rescued to that point were healthy.

A press conference is expected to follow this evening with further details. We’ll update you with information as we receive it.

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