• 54°

Book shows how daring divers saved 12 boys in flooded cave

By Abby McGanney Nolan

Special To The Washington Post

Do you remember last summer’s big news story about 12 boys who were trapped with their soccer coach deep inside a cave in Thailand? As each day passed, and more and more rain flooded the cave, their rescue became more urgent but less likely.

In “Rising Water: The Story of the Thai Cave Rescue,” author Marc Aronson explains the huge danger involved — for the rescuers and the ones to be rescued. He also tells us a lot more about the Tham Luang cave and the skills of cave divers than was reported last June and July. Aronson dedicates his book to the many volunteers, particularly Sergeant Saman Kunan, who drowned in the rescue. Kunan was a retired member of the Thai Navy’s special operations SEAL unit.

Surrounded by lush green hills and rice fields, the cave consists of 6.4 miles of passageways, some large, some very narrow and some splitting in two directions. The soccer team, known as the Wild Boars, was trapped on a small sand bank that was miles from the entrance, with no food or natural light. The boys hadn’t told their parents they were going to explore the cave, so they had no idea whether anyone was searching for them.

In fact, hundreds of people had gathered to figure out a rescue plan. Soon after the Thai SEALs arrived, so did an American military force, many of the world’s best cave divers, a Chinese disaster-relief group and countless others, including locals who cooked for the volunteers. Although the scene was chaotic at times, Aronson says that the rescue operation “was the world working together in the most perfect way.”

The rescue team had two huge tasks: Find the soccer team and figure out how to get all of them out of the cave. Ten days into the ordeal, two British cave divers reached the boys, spoke to one of them and gave assurances they would return with food and doctors. It took six more days to devise and carry out a rescue plan.

Aronson praises Ekapol Chantawong, the team’s assistant coach who goes by Ek, for keeping the boys calm and united during those first 10 days. Ek had learned meditation at a Buddhist monastery, so he passed along his knowledge.

The book also addresses the uncertain circumstances of Ek and several of the boys. Adul Sam-on, the only boy who could speak English to the British divers, had been brought into Thailand illegally and was considered “stateless,” similar to an undocumented immigrant in the United States. Only 14, he knew five languages.

Ek, Adul and two other boys in the group, who were all considered stateless, had a second happy ending after the rescue: They were granted citizenship by the Thai government last August.

About Post Lifestyles

Visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalPostLifestyle/ and Twitter @postlifestlyes for more content

email author More by Post

Comments

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline

Local

Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance

Local

Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

Local

Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May

Business

Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards

Local

Cheerleading team competes at Disney

Education

Salisbury High to celebrate football, swimming champions with parade

High School

High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team

Local

Spencer awarded $10,000 to develop trails at Stanback Forest

Books

‘Tails and Tales’ coming to library this summer

Local

Public Records: March Deeds

Entertainment

Salisbury Symphony’s ‘Return to the Concert Hall’ available May 24-31

Coronavirus

Salisbury teen becomes one of first in age group to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Business

Down Goat: Local farm and creamery poised to add goat yoga, artisan goat cheese to offerings

Local

Pandemic’s impact, uncertainty of transit funding prompt request to eliminate Rowan Express service

Lifestyle

New Waterworks’ exhibit opens June 1

High School

High school football: Walsh accepts the South football challenge

Lifestyle

Price of Freedom Museum gets donated landscape project

Lifestyle

Rowan Museum will have Upscale Yard Sale Saturday

Business

Seventh dragon boat festival set for July 24; deadline for sponsorships is May 28

Nation/World

‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza

Nation/World

Pipeline operator says “normal operations” have resumed

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021