The 12 young boys and their soccer coach walked into the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand in late June 2018 after soccer practice. But they were quickly trapped inside by rising floodwater due to seasonal rain.
Desipite a massive search that was launched to find them — a risk-filled mission that drew the world’s attention — the team became trapped in the cave for nine nights, before an expert diver spotted them.
It then took another eight days to bring them all to safety. The operation resulted in the death of one former Thai navy diver who died during a re-supply mission supporting the rescue.
Now, more than a year later, monks, tourists, and government officials returned to the site for an official reopening, according to the Guardian. There were even sales of Tham Luang shirts.
One of the divers who helped rescue the 13 people, Vernon Unsworth, was among those at the scene on Friday.
He told the Guardian last year’s mission was “the biggest rescue ever mounted.”
With a permit from the park where the cave is located, 20 visitors at a time were allowed into the first cave’s chamber, according to the Bangkok Post.
The park was upgraded to national park status earlier this year, and has hosted approximately 1.5 million in the past fiscal year, the Post reported.
The dramatic rescue of the soccer team and their coach has also inspired filmmakers to tell the story for the big screen, with one film, director Tom Waller’s “The Cave”, making its South Korean debut in October.
Netflix has also secured the rights to tell the tale from the viewpoint of the young boys.
— With files by The Associated Press