The Thai Navy SEALs have sent their condolences to the Australian doctor and diver whose father died just hours after they successfully rescued the last of the trapped soccer team.
Adelaide anaesthetist and underwater cave explorer Richard “Harry” Harris risked his own life to make the treacherous journey to the underground chamber where the group of 13 had been trapped for two weeks.
But soon after the rescue reached its successful climax on Tuesday, Dr Harris’s father Jim passed away in what his boss and colleague at Adelaide’s medical retrieval service said was a “complete, unexpected shock”.
“Earlier this morning, Harry’s father passed away here in Adelaide,” MedSTAR clinical director Andrew Pearce told reporters on Wednesday.
The SEALs, who Dr Harris worked alongside for much of the 18-day rescue operation, issued a statement on Wednesday night (local time) thanking the South Australian for his incredible efforts.
“Our condolences to Doctor Richard Harris, one of the leading rescuers whose father just passed away hours after his rescue mission had been completed,” the statement read.
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“We wish you the best for this very tough time. We never thank you enough for what you’ve done for the kids, their families and Thailand.
“Thank you, Richard and thank you, Australia!”
SEALs share incredible vision from inside flooded cave
Standing deep in murky waters, the footage released on the Thai Navy SEALs Facebook page shows a complex operation with numerous divers — both foreign and Thai — using pulleys, ropes and rubber piping to haul members of the soccer team to safety.
The 12 boys were passed “sleeping” on stretchers through the treacherous passageways, a former Thai Navy SEAL told AFP Wednesday, giving the first clear details of an astonishing rescue mission that has captivated the world.
The nerve-shredding three-day operation ended on Tuesday with the final group of four boys and the coach emerging from the cave.