Thai boys rescue

How the Thai cave rescue mission unfolded

July 9, 2018 ( updated on July 12 )

On June 23, a group of 12 boys from a local soccer team, and their coach, went missing in a cave complex in northern Thailand. The entire world followed their rescue

The cave system
Tham Luang Nang Non cave is located in northern Thailand and is one of the country’s largest cave systems. Popular with tourists throughout the year, it is prone to flooding during the monsoon season between the end of June and September

Key events

About 243 million litres of water were pumped out to drain the flooded cave before the first group of boys were rescued on Sunday, July 8. To put this into context, if the same volume of water were placed in a pool the size of the pitch in Luzhniki Stadium, which is hosting the 2018 World Cup final, it would be about 34 metres deep

Original photo by Serg Stallone

Rainfall in the area increased rapidly after the boys entered the complex. They were forced deeper into the caves as the passages flooded, leaving the boys trapped on a ledge. Heavy rains were forecast, which presented a frightening scenario because the water levels would likely rise again quickly

Rescue scenarios

Thai authorities initiated their plan A (crawl and dive) to free the youngsters from the cave, but they did not discard the possibility of alternative solutions if the weather were to complicate the evacuation

The children's exit path was full of dangerous nooks and crannies. Here you can compare the sizes of the grottoes they encountered on their outward journey


The boys' health was checked at the scene and then each was taken to hospital using one of two methods

As most of the cave was drained, the boys could be led out on foot by rescue teams. They faced slime on the cave floor, steep slopes, narrow steps, and stones with sharp edges that could break the skin

Percentage of the way crawling and walking

A footage published on July 12 by the Thai Navy reveals that the boys were sedated and set upon stretchers to be carried out of the cave to prevent panic attacks and to be more easily maneouvred by rescuers

The boys needed to scuba dive through certain sections, such as chamber three, where drainage was insufficient. Although they were assisted by experienced divers, this was extremely risky as none of the boys could swim and had no diving experience in this environment

Percentage of the way diving

It is unlikely the boys were equipped with diving fins because they are cumbersome for walking in at the best of times and unsuitable for clambering around on rocky inclinations. The cave’s floor was also covered in silt, which fins would stir up, affecting visibility

Possible health issues

The conditions in which the boys were trapped impacted their health, and the experience could cause mid- to long-term psychological and physical damage

After the rescue

The protocol for this rescue was clearly defined

Checked their health and transferred them to ambulances on stretchers

Drove them to a nearby makeshift hospital

Re-examined their physical condition

Transferred them to Chiangrai Prachanukroh hospital to monitor their health


Here are some of the awards that this graphic has obtained

  • Bronze Medal

    Malofiej 27

  • Gold medal

    Kantar, Information Is Beautiful Awards
    2018 Edition

  • Bronze Medal

    Society For News Design
    Edition 40

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