Australian divers have revealed the drama surrounding the final stages of the tense rescue of 12 boys and their football coach trapped in a Thai cave.
The three Australian divers explained how a wall of water crashed through the cave just moments after the rescue was completed.
Fairfax Media reports more than 100 rescuers were forced to flee just moments after the final Thai Navy SEAL emerged from the Tham Luang cave, as a “tsunami-like” surge crashed through the cavern after the pump holding floodwaters back failed.
The divers also detailed how the boys were pulled from the cave. They were passed “hand to hand” between the rescuers to get them out.
“They must have passed through about 150 hands,” one of the divers said at a briefing in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand on Wednesday.
“As you can imagine it was pretty crowded in there.”
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and the coach, 25, had been trapped in the flooded Than Luang cave for more than two weeks.
All were finally rescued on Tuesday, with the coach and the final four boys making the “arduous” four-kilometre journey out of the cave on Tuesday.
The Australian diver said at first his team were given the job of helping with supplies before joining others to pass the boys through tight, watery crevices in the caves.
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All of the Australian divers declined to comment on speculation the boys were sedated so as not to panic as they were guided to the surface.
Six Australian Federal Police divers, together with Dr Richard Harris, a specialist in hyperbaric medicine, helped support the Thai Navy diving team rescue operation.
An Australian Defence Force spokesman said Dr Harris, who made key assessments of the 12 boys on Saturday to greenlight the rescue operation, would not be speaking to the media.
It was on Wednesday revealed that just after the rescue mission Dr Harris’s father died.