Editorials 11.7.2018 08:50 am

Miracle cave rescue is a beacon of hope

A spirit and Buddha state image are seen in front of a cave near Tham Luang cave complex, as an ongoing search for members of an under-16 soccer team and their coach continues, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 2, 2018. Picture: Reuters

A spirit and Buddha state image are seen in front of a cave near Tham Luang cave complex, as an ongoing search for members of an under-16 soccer team and their coach continues, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 2, 2018. Picture: Reuters

It’s a reminder that humans are capable of achieving remarkable things.

In the grander scheme of things – in a world where people die daily and life is often nasty, brutal and short, not to mention cheap – the rescue of 12 young Thai footballers and their coach from a flooded cave system was never going to change the world.

Yet, for days, many across the planet held their collective breath, expecting the worst because it seemed as though the odds were heavily stacked against both the team and their rescuers. It was mission impossible: firstly finding the lost group and then working out how to extract them from the labyrinth.

The solution seemed daringly far-fetched: swim the boys out with the use of scuba gear, along a twisting and treacherous 4km route as much as a kilometre underground at times. Apart from the dangers of the cave, there were the logistics of providing lights and cables, and caching extra oxygen cylinders along the route for the boys and their rescuers.

That effort of preparation cost the life of a Thai Navy SEAL, fortunately the only fatality in the rescue operation.

Most amazing of all was the fact that the boys, many of whom had never swum in their lives, had to be taught to be divers. That they did so, successfully, is a tribute both to their courage and to the patience and skill of their scuba instructors.

The rescue operation was also notable for the fact that it was truly international in nature, with divers and underwater rescue experts from around the world offering their services as volunteers. It was a time when nationality, race and gender were not important; and the saving of human lives was.

Most people are better today for having experienced this once-in-a-lifetime miracle, even from afar.

It’s a reminder that humans are capable of achieving remarkable things.

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