On June 23, 2018, a group of 12 boys ages 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach became trapped in the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand after heavy rains caused flooding.
Over the next two weeks, an international team of rescue workers worked around the clock to try to free the group.
On July 8, 2018, it was announced that a former Thai Navy SEAL had died while attempting to deliver oxygen tanks to the group. His death was a tragic reminder of the risks involved in the rescue effort.
Finally, on July 10, 2018, the last of the group was brought out safely. Although they had been through an ordeal, they were all alive and reuniting with their families.
The Tham Luang cave rescue was an unprecedented operation, and it presented a number of challenges for the rescuers.
The first difficulty was simply finding the boys, who were hiding in a small chamber deep in the cave complex. Once they were located, the next challenge was getting them out.
The cave was flooded and there was no way to pump out the water. And even if the water could be removed, the boys would still have to navigate through narrow, treacherous passages.
So, the rescuers decided to teach the boys how to dive. This was no easy task, as most of the boys did not know how to swim.
In addition, they had to contend with strong currents and low visibility. But after weeks of training, the boys were finally able to make it out safely. The rescue became a global story and demonstrated the power of teamwork and human resilience.
But sadly, Saman Gunan and Beirut Pakbara, two native Thai divers (Navy SEAL members), diedas a result of many factors connected to the involved, intense operation.
What Happened To Beirut Pakbara?
Petty Officer First Class Beirut Pakbara passed away in late December 2019 from a rare infection he had contracted more than 17 months earlier while working to save the 12 children and their devoted coach.
Even though he was receiving therapy during this time, the infection eventually reached his bloodstream, which caused his condition to deteriorate irreversibly. Even though his mother said he had been in and out of the hospital since the expedition, it ultimately made no difference.
“Mourning Sergeant Major Beirut Pakbara, the hero of the Tham Luang cave who passed away,”
The following is the statement from the SEALs’ statement confirming Beirut’s demise on December 27, 2019.
“The Royal Thai Navy would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Sergeant Beirut.” They also declared that he will be given a royal award and a posthumous elevation to the rank of lieutenant.
Furthermore, the Royal Thai Navy promised Beirut’s estate monies totaling about 465,000 baht (approximately $15,500 at the time) as an inheritance bonus, extra compensation, and gratuity.
After performing customary Islamic funeral rites, the official was reportedly laid to rest by his family at the Talosai mosque in his hometown of Satun’s Langu district on Friday, the same day as the announcement.
On July 6, 2018, Saman “Sam” Guman, a 37-year-old former Navy SEAL officer who was still a volunteer, passed away while performing the rescue.
He apparently ran out of air underwater while on his way out of the cave complex after delivering oxygen tanks to the Wild Boar soccer squad. Since then, a statue of him has been placed close to Tham Luang’s entrance.