The 12 young members of a Thai soccer team and their coach have been rescued from being trapped deep inside a cave, marking the end of a two-week ordeal, but how did they get trapped in the first place?
On June 23, the Wild Boar soccer team ventured into Tham Luang cave, one of Thailand’s longest and toughest to explore, during heavy rains after soccer practice.The cave system is located about 825 kilometres north of Bangkok.
It’s unclear why the boys, aged 11 to 16 years old, and their 25-year-old coach entered the 10-kilometre long cave, but, according to Sky News, it was part of an initiation process for local young men.
WATCH: All 12 boys, their coach rescued from Thai cave
Ben Reymenants, who was involved in the rescue mission, told Sky News that the group left their belongings at the entrance of the cavern “before wading in and trying to go to the end of the tunnel, sort of like an initiation for local young boys to… write your name on the wall and make it back.”
Some of the boys had reportedly explored the cave system in the past, while some knew the system well, but became stuck after a flash flood trapped them deep inside the cave. The team was officially reported missing after not returning home on June 23.
WATCH: Global’s Eric Sorensen takes a look at how a boys soccer team and their coach became trapped in a cave in Thailand.
The boys are believed to have walked about four kilometres into the winding passageways to an elevated, dry platform dubbed “Pattaya Beach.”
Reymenants described the cave and the rescue efforts to Sky News as “one of the more extreme cave dives I’ve done.”
It’s likely once the rains became heavy, water flooded through the main entrance of the cave and seeped through the limestone walls. As you can see in Global News’ 3D model in the player above, the caves are sometimes flooded to begin with and very narrow. The current and the water flow can be strong as well, while water can pool in the lower slopes of the cave system.
After days of rain, the boys were located on July 2, by two British divers and members of the Thai navy SEALS. It reportedly took three hours for the divers to reach the location of the boys, from the cave’s entrance.
Some spots required a 30-metre-deep scuba dive while other required divers to remove their tanks to squeeze through the passageway.
A former member of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit died during the rescue mission after entering the cave to lay oxygen tanks along a potential exit route.
On Sunday, four boys were brought out from the cave after being tethered to rescued divers. Another four were rescued Monday while the final four and their soccer coach were pulled out Tuesday.
–with files from Rebecca Joseph and Reuters