The unbelievable true story behind Netflix's Thai Cave Rescue series

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

When it comes to unbelievable true stories, Netflix's tale of the 2018 Thai Tham Luang Cave rescue is up there with the most inspiring and emotional TV shows.

Titled Thai Cave Rescue, the six-part limited series arrived on Netflix last week (22 September), tracking the true events of the rescue mission which saved a youth football team from a flooded cave.

The series has already made its way into Netflix's Top 10 (and rightly so), with viewers once again gripped by the incredible tale.

So, what's the true story behind Thai Cave Rescue?

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

How did the boys get stuck in the cave?

Thai Cave Rescue takes place in the same location as the real-life story: the Tham Luang Cave, part of a cave complex situated on the border between Thailand and Myanmar.

On 23 June 2018, a youth football team - made up of 12 boys aged 11 to 16 and their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong - ventured into the cave. Although the group had been into the caves before, extreme rain meant the cave became flooded, leaving the group trapped underground.

The boys' families and head coach Nopparat Kanthawong sounded the alarm, leading to various rescue attempts in the following days. After a couple of failed attempts, divers from various British, US, Australian and Chinese organisations, and more, joined forces to help the operation.

How were the boys saved from the Tham Luang Cave?

Following days of attempts, divers finally found the boys alive on 2 July - unbelievably more than a week after they had first become trapped.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Divers from the British Cave Rescue Council - Richard Stanton and John Volanthen - found the boys at around 10pm, 4km inwards from the cave opening.

It's thought that over 10,000 people were involved in the rescue mission, which required huge amounts of diving equipment. Different rescue options were suggested by the team, including sending food and water to the boys until the monsoon ended, drilling a rescue shaft, or teaching the boys to dive in order to swim out on the cave.

However, it was decided that teaching the boys to dive would be too challenging (with the cave maze extremely cramped), and the team eventually opted to sedate the boys and then tow them out individually. On 8 July, 18 divers went into the cave, with one assigned to each boy, plus extras to help - and each boy had to be re-sedated along the way.

An anaesthetist was brought on board to carry out the dangerous strategy, and there was a risk that the boys' masks could have flooded with water along the way.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Did anyone die in the real Thai cave rescue?

On 10 July, all 12 boys and their coach had made it out of the cave. Sadly, former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan died while delivering oxygen tanks. It's thought he lost consciousness underwater, with a fellow diver then attempting CPR.

A year later, Thai Navy SEAL Beirut Pakbara also tragically died after contracting a blood infection during the rescue mission.

Miraculously, though, all 12 boys left the cave in good health after being trapped for more than two weeks.

Thai Cave Rescue is streaming now on Netflix.

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