'Hooyah!': Tears flow, horns honk after all cave boys rescued

'Hooyah!': Tears flow, horns honk after all cave boys rescued

BANGKOK: Honking car horns and live "selfie" videos - this is how some Thais in the northern city of Chiang Rai and beyond celebrated on Tuesday (Jul 10) after all 12 boys and their football coach had been safely rescued from a labyrinthine cave complex.

The dramatic rescue marks the end of a more than two-week ordeal which began when the Wild Boars team and their coach became trapped inside the flooded Tham Luang cave on the border with Myanmar on Jun 23.

Two British divers found the 13 last Monday but the search and rescue operation has largely been driven by Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit.

"This is an important event in my life. It is something I will remember," said a visibly emotional Rachapol Ngamgrabuan, an official at Chiang Rai's provincial press office.

"There were times when I cried," he added. "Happy. Very happy to see all Thai people love each other."

Thais have been glued to their televisions, mobile phones and computer screens following every twist and turn of the boys' story, as have many people overseas.

A journalist celebrates as he leaves from Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chian
A journalist celebrates as he leaves from Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, Jul 10, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

Thai cave hospital bystanders smiling
People react near a hospital, where the children's football team members are treated after being rescued, in Chiang Rai on Jul 10, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha)

Thai cave rescue jubilation
Volunteers celebrate near Tham Luang cave complex. (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

Thais turned to social media on Tuesday to show their elation using the hashtag #Hooyah, a word used by the navy to build morale. Other hashtags included #Heroes and #Thankyou.

"You are our heroes!" wrote some, captioning cartoons showing the boys and their coach with dozens of rescue workers, volunteers and military personnel.

On Monday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he would host a celebration for all of those involved in the multinational rescue effort.

"We will host a meal for all sides," said Prayuth.

READ: Meet the Wild Boars and the heroes who helped bring them to safety

Top Thai retailers including Central Group and The Mall Group also chimed in to show their support.

"We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave," the navy SEAL unit wrote on its official page moments after the rescue.

Britain's Manchester United football club said on its official Twitter page that it was relieved to learn that the 13 were safe and extended an invitation for the group and their rescuers to visit its Old Trafford stadium. 


INTERACTIVE SPECIAL | Here's how divers overcame the elements to save the 13 Wild Boars in one of the world's most difficult rescue operations: cna.asia/thaicaverescue

READ MORE | Full coverage of the search and rescue operation: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/topic/Thailand-cave-rescue

Source: Reuters/zl