Thai cave rescue: Wild Boars youngsters get Manchester United invite

Thai cave rescue: Wild Boars youngsters get Manchester United invite
PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - English Premier League side Manchester United have invited the Wild Boars football team, like the Chilean miners rescued in 2010, to visit Old Trafford following their dramatic rescue on Tuesday (July 10).

The final five members of the young football team - four youngsters and their 25-year-old coach - were rescued from a flooded Thai cave after spending 18 harrowing days trapped deep inside, completing an astonishing against-the-odds rescue mission that captivated the world.

The dozen players - aged 11 to 16 - and the coach had already received an invitation from Fifa chief Gianni Infantino last week to attend the World Cup final on Sunday in Moscow - although after their traumatic experience they may not be up to the trip physically or mentally.

Manchester United, though, tweeted an invitation just after the news that all had been rescued and with the Premier League season lasting from August through to May there will be plenty of time for them to recuperate and opportunity for them to take the offer up.

on Twitter

"#MUFC is relieved to learn that the 12 footballers and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand are now safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season," the club tweeted on its official account.

United - who this year commemorated the 60th anniversary of their own traumatic experience of the Munich Air disaster that decimated the celebrated "Busby Babes" - extended a similar invitation to the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010.

The idea for that invitation which was spread over several days came from Bobby Charlton - one of those who survived the crash and also came from a mining community - and 23 of the miners eventually came with the climax of the visit watching them play Arsenal.

United gave the miners a United shirt with their names on the back, plus the number reflecting when they were lifted out of the mine during the rescue.

Present United manager Jose Mourinho had also given the miners a guided tour at his then club Real Madrid.

Thai cave rescue: How each boy is extracted in complex process

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    The 10-km long Tham Luang cave, which has been described as a labyrinth, sits near the Thai border with Myanmar.

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    Rescue divers began operations on Sunday (July 8) to extract the 12 boys and their football coach from the massive Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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    Here's how the 12 boys might dive and walk out of the complex cave network. (Graphic Not drawn to scale)

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    The boys are located more than 4km from the mouth of the cave. Most of the boys don't know how to swim.

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    According to experts, divers required three hours to reach the boys from the mouth of the cave, Reuters reported. The boys' ordeal is expected to last 3 or more hours.

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    This undated handout photo taken recently and released by the Royal Thai Navy on July 7, 2018 shows a Thai Navy diver in the cave during rescue operations.

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    The boys will have to first dive for 400m before reaching Pattaya Beach, a chamber more than 4km from the cave's entrance. Then, they have to dive for another 130m before walking and climbing along a 400m-long dry area.

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    The first, nearly 1km-long section from where the boys have been huddling in darkness is believed to be the most difficult, requiring a long dive and crawling through mud and debris, with some crevices barely wide enough for a person.

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    The 5-km escape route cuts through dark, flooded and narrow passageways, as this still from a video circulating online shows.

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    How each boy will be tethered to the 2 adult rescue divers. Once past the first stretch, the boys' escape route forks east at a T-junction, and they must scrabble over some diverse terrain including giant boulders, sand and slippery rocks with sudden cliff-like drops and further submerged passageways.

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    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

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    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

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    "The hole is really small, I have to take off my air tank to crawl through it," a 25-year-old Thai Navy Seal told Reuters before the rescue attempt. "As I do, I feel the edges of the hole on both my back and chest."

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    Rescue divers will have to remove their scuba tanks and roll them along while guiding the boys through. After that though, the tunnels widen, the waters subside, and walking is even possible.

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    There are several 'choke points' in the complex cave network. After the dreaded T-junction, the rest of the journey is expected to be relatively safe as they will have reached a forward operating base inside the cave.

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    Ambulances wait at the mouth of the cave to whisk the boys away to hospital when they emerge.

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    Divers resuming the rescue mission on Monday (July 9).

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    Police and military personnel use umbrellas to cover around a stretcher near a helicopter and an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai on July 9, 2018.

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    Rescuers venturing into the cave in a photo released on July 7 by the Thai Royal Navy.

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    The high-risk operation at the Tham Luang caves paused overnight on Sunday (July 8) as rescuers recovered and oxygen tanks were replenished along the route.

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    Torchlight only affords visibility up to three feet in the murky waters.

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    A nearby hospital ready to receive the boys after they are rescued.

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