The global rescue efforts to rescue 12 boys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand now includes help from Singapore.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote to Thai prime minister Chan-o-cha to commend the government response to the crisis, and to “offer Singapore’s assistance in any way we can,” according to a post on his Facebook page.
“The grit and resilience of these young men is an inspiration to all,” said PM Lee.
Lee also lauded the international cooperation that made the search operation possible, which included assistance from Australia, Britain, Japan, China, Myanmar, Laos, and the United States.
“This difficult and grueling search operation would not have succeeded without the strong leadership and coordination of the Thai Government and the tireless efforts of the multi-national rescue team, including the two British volunteer divers who first found the boys,” said Lee on Facebook.
The boys and their coach first went missing in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Northern Thailand on Saturday, 23 June after flash flooding cut them off from the main entrance.
The story made international headlines as the Thai Navy Seals raced against time to find the boys alive as heavy rains in the area continued, increasing the danger for both the trapped kids and the rescuers. For over a week, both Thai and international divers searched day in and day out, finding no trace of the missing kids, testing the emotional strength of their parents and onlookers all over the world.
Finally, after an excruciating nine days of waiting and many dashed hopes, the world rejoiced after two British divers discovered the boys, miraculously safe despite being deep inside the cave complex.
The divers told reporters they were greeted by cries of joy when the kids saw them. Video taken by the rescuers showed the kids were in remarkably good condition and good spirits. “I am very happy. Thank you so much,” said one of the boys.
But the rescue operation is not over yet. With the complexity of the cave in combination with continued heavy rains, experts say it could take weeks or months of coordinated efforts to get the kids and their coach out of the cave. The danger they are still in right now remains very much real — a former Thai military diver died on his way out of the cave complex after delivering oxygen tanks.