Thai king confers awards on two Australian divers for rescue of cave boys

Thai king confers awards on two Australian divers for rescue of cave boys

Richard Harris, Australian member of the Thai cave rescue team shakes hands with Thailand's Pr
Richard Harris, Australian member of the Thai cave rescue team shakes hands with Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Government House in Bangkok. 

BANGKOK: Two Australian cave divers who were instrumental in the rescue last year of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave received on Friday (Apr 19) a royal honour from King Maha Vajiralongkorn in a ceremony in Bangkok.

The “Wild Boars” soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped on Jun 23 while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Richard Harris and Craig Challen, Australian memb
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Richard Harris and Craig Challen, Australian members of the Thai cave rescue team pose for photo at the Government House, in Bangkok.

A 17-day effort to rescue them gripped the world with experts from various countries volunteering to help.

Richard Harris and Craig Challen were members of the main rescue team, made up of 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy divers, that brought the boys and their coach out to safety.

They received the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn at Bangkok's Government House before meeting Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in their first trip back to Thailand since the rescue.

Craig Challen, Australian member of the Thai cave rescue team receives the Member of the Most Admir
Craig Challen, Australian member of the Thai cave rescue team receives the Member of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn award in front of a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn at the Government House in Bangkok.

They will travel to Chiang Rai and return to the Tham Luang cave on Monday to meet the boys and their coach.

"That's really exciting for us to go and see them and make sure they're well and see how they're doing after the rescue," Harris said.

Harris, a physician specializing in anaesthesia, was responsible for sedating the boys before they were brought out one-by-one on a rescue stretcher through flooded tunnels.

Richard Harris, Australian members of the Thai cave rescue team shakes hands with Thailand's P
Richard Harris, Australian members of the Thai cave rescue team shakes hands with Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Government House, in Bangkok.

The pair were in January named Australians of the Year, one of Australia's highest honours.

King Vajiralongkorn has conferred various honours on 187 people in connection with the rescue, 113 of them foreigners including Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, who were involved in the effort, according to the Royal Gazette in March.

A former Thai navy diver died during the rescue.

Source: Reuters

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