PM Lee Hsien Loong hails rescuers behind 'complex operation' to save 12 Thai boys and coach

PM Lee Hsien Loong hails rescuers behind 'complex operation' to save 12 Thai boys and coach

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (Jul 10) hailed the rescuers who helped save the 12 Thai boys and their football coach stranded in a cave, calling the "complex operation" a "remarkable display of strength of the human spirit".

"Delighted & relieved that the 12 Thai boys & their football coach have been successfully rescued from the Tham Luang cave," Mr Lee wrote in a Facebook post late on Tuesday night.

"It is an inspiring tale of what different nations and groups can achieve by working together," he added.

All 12 boys from the "Wild Boar" football team and their coach were rescued on Tuesday evening from a flooded Thai cave complex where they had been trapped for more than two weeks.

The last five trapped in the Tham Luang cave were evacuated on Tuesday, the third day of the rescue operation.

A medic and all navy SEAL divers had also left the cave safely, said chief of the rescue mission Narongsak Osottanakorn.

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

The Thai army had sent more than 1,000 personnel to help in the rescue efforts.

"It was heartening to see so many prayers and suggestions for the Wild Boars’ safe rescue – this saga has touched many around the world," Mr Lee wrote in his post.

The "Wild Boars" football team and their coach got trapped on Jun 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

British divers found the 13, huddled on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber several kilometres inside the complex, on Monday last week.

The eight boys brought out on Sunday and Monday were in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said.

Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around their hospital beds.

"I wish all those rescued a smooth and quick recovery from their ordeal (hopefully in time for the World Cup final this Sunday :) )," Mr Lee said in his post.

World football governing body FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Jul 6 had written a message of support for the boys, and extended an invitation to the team to attended the World Cup final in Moscow as FIFA's guest.

Doctors have said the boys will have to remain in hospital for a while and will not be able to attend the World Cup final.

In his post on Tuesday night, Mr Lee also paid tribute to the Thai and international rescuers and volunteers who contributed to the operation, including retired Navy Petty Officer First Class Saman Kunan, who died delivering oxygen tanks into the cave.

"All of them showed great heart and resilience during this rescue, which succeeded thanks to their efforts," Mr Lee said.

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:

READ MORE | Full coverage of the search and rescue operation:

Source: CNA/aj