Is The ‘Thai Cave Rescue’ Based On A True Story? What Is The ‘Tham Luang’ Incident?

The Tham Luang Cave Incident is one of the most horrific cases in the history of Thailand. In June 2018, twelve boys and their coach visited this cave after their football match. But suddenly, the climate changed, and these thirteen people were stuck inside the cave with no way out. The cave was deep, and it was filled with rainwater, making it difficult for them to breathe and survive. This incident spread like wildfire across the whole world, and international countries stepped in to provide help as well. Over the years, The Tham Luang Cave Incident has inspired many movies, and recently Netflix introduced a six-episode series named “Thai Cave Rescue.” For days, the water level didn’t reduce, and the country was hit with severe rainfall, which in turn trapped them inside the cave. The first two weeks of this incident became a dreadful situation for the children as well as the officials, as parents began pondering around the cave, asking for clues. But the officials had no clue since it was difficult to contact them from the outside. The rescue teams were even doubtful about their survival.

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The water level of this cave was never a concern, but it was then filled with narrow getaways, making it impossible for the teams to step inside without losing their lives. Later, it was revealed that the sudden rainstorm was unforeseeable. With each minute, the water level was rising, and the officials had to come up with a plan to dive the children out. Firstly, they blocked all the entrances that supplied the mountain with water. This enabled them to pump out the excess water, through which they stopped the flow as well. All the children were strong-hearted, and they knew that survival was required, and they were ready to wait for that; after 18 hours of their disappearance, the Governor of Thailand was involved in the case as well. There were around 10,000 people in the rescue teams and the logistics camp. They aimed to accommodate the people present at the scene. The governor continuously contacted the parents of these children, assuring them that they were safe.

But in reality, things were getting worse inside the cave. The cave consisted of multiple chambers and caverns of all different sizes, and the rain blocked all the entrances. Due to this, the rescue teams were unable to peer through the gaps as they were wide enough only to put their shoulders through. In the beginning, the first two chambers were not filled to the brim, and they had no choice but to swim across these passages to find the children. Luckily, the children stepped into the T junction of the cave, and this helped them survive as well. Soon, the Navy SEALs arrived, and they had combat medics and certified experts. Their presence was important since the boys had been hungry for days! On the other hand, the extraction had multiple problems. The depth of the cave changed the oxygen levels every minute, and it became even more difficult to find the entrance to the T junction.

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There were multiple challenges in the cave as the divers had to peer through narrow spaces to stay alive, but another challenge was to swim against the water currents. The governor had massive pressure on his mind since he was constantly blamed for involving foreign divers in the case as well. But the local divers gave up since many of them were severely injured. Soon, the arrival of Rick Stanton and John Volanthen was God-sent for them. They were extremely sharp-minded, and throughout their career, they had managed to nail down several flooding cases like these. The US military sent many special forces officers to assist the rescue teams on the field. The limestone in the cave was over-saturated and it pushed the water to the southern side, which in turn blocked off the interior passages. The divers had no option but to enter the cave as soon as possible since it might take around three months for the water level to go down.

Well, this risk was out of option since it would kill all the children, so they had to chart down ways to fight the strong currents flowing from the narrow passages of the cave. After thirteen days of intervention, the rescue divers were able to meet the children, and luckily, each one of them was completely fine! They gave them letters from their parents, and this helped them to put up the fight. Later, it was revealed that the main reasons behind their survival were their fitness and mental strength. Since all the children were football players, they generally had strong bodies. Coming back to the “Thai Cave Rescue” series, the creators depicted a strong emotional approach to get the viewers hooked. They’ve added some fictional characteristics to increase the appeal as well. In this process, the Navy SEAL Ja Sam lost his life, but even today, no one knows the real reason behind his death.

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According to John and Rick, the kids had to be immobilized for safer removal. Since their panic attacks could result in their death and could also pose a threat to the diver’s life, the only way to dive them out was to make sure that they won’t panic from the outcome. But this was nearly impossible since panic is a human reflex. The boys were given drugs like Xanax and Ketamine, and both these medicines are important for the kids since Xanax eases and Ketamine induces sleep. It is the safest way to get them out since the boys can breathe and stay calm at the same time. It’s been sixteen days since the boys went missing, and luckily, the first boy was extracted safely from the cave after five hours of operation! One by one, all the boys were extracted, but the team couldn’t arrange a smaller mask for the last boy. But somehow, they managed to pull him out, and the boy was saved! Well, the whole rescue operation was successfully carried out through determination and teamwork!


Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya is a Mass Media graduate and she is currently working and living in Mumbai. From a very young age, Raschi was heavily interested in reading and writing. She prefers to write everything that her mind nurtures her to do as shaping up her imagination is her forte!

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