Editorial: Thai rescue is a message to never give up

Twelve young boys and their soccer coach were trapped about four kilometres into a network of caves that had been closed off by sudden flooding rain.

They have been there for about two weeks.

It was pitch black in the caves, and some sections were so tight that it was a challenge to fit a small person through the cracks. The group was surviving by licking water off the cave walls.

None of those trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non caves in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand, could swim and the threat of more flooding monsoonal rain lingered.

It sounded like a recipe for disaster. A situation with no hope of a happy ending. A mission impossible, despite the expertise of several divers, Navy SEALS, medical specialists and many other volunteers on hand to do all that they could.

But this isn't a tragic movie; it is a real life story that played out over the past week in the media, in the lives of those involved and in the thoughts of the family, friends and other people world-wide who hoped and prayed for a miracle in what seemed a certain hopeless situation.

Sadly one life was lost. A former Thai navy SEAL, diving in a voluntary capacity was the single fatality of the rescue effort. 

He died on a mission to place air canisters along the passage to where the boys were. It was a necessary step so divers could safely travel the five to six-hour route through the caves.

He will be remembered as a hero that played an integral role in ensuring the safe recovery of 13 other people and their rescuers.

His efforts, and the efforts of everyone else involved in the ever-challenging ordeal, provided a sense of hope in what at first seemed like a hopeless situation.

The final reality is the recovery of all 13 people trapped. “We did something no-one else thought was possible,” head of the rescue mission Narongsak Osottanakorn said. 

Rarely has a comment been so true – no-one thought it could be done. Did you? The outcome was real and tangible proof that nothing is impossible and that miracles can happen.

It also reinforces that our future is never certain, so it is important to make the most of every day and appreciate those we love.

The young soccer players and their coach will now be in hospital for some time as they are nursed back to good health. Here’s hoping for their speedy recovery.