Thai cave soccer team rescue modeled in exhibition

A woman walks past a sculpture of a former Thai Navy Seal Petty Officer 1st class Saman Kunan, who died during the Wild Boar soccer team rescue operation at the Tham Luang cave, on display as part of the exhibition simulating the Thai cave rescue through Sept. 9. Photo by Narong Sangnak/ EPA-EFE

Aug. 24 (UPI) — An exhibition modeled after the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from Thailand cave last month has opened.

Divers rescued all soccer teammates, each under age 15, and their 25-year-old coach, from the Tham Luang Cave in northern Thailand by July 17, 18 days after the day waters flooded into the cave trapping them inside after they went for a hike in the cave after a game.

The Culture Ministry hosting the exhibit transformed a shopping mall’s hall at Siam Paragon in Bangkok, Thailand, into a simulation of the Tham Luang cave. The exhibit called “Tham Laung Incredible Mission: the Global Agenda,” is on display now and will run through Sept. 9, according to Thailand’s The Nation. The display features actual rescue equipment used in the operation, photography and media clips. It also features a bronze sculpture in tribute to former Thai Navy Seal Saman Kunan, 38, who died as he returned from placing air tanks in the cave.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam presided over the exhibition’s opening Wednesday.

“By learning from the exhibition, we will adapt these lessons from the globally united mission for solving other crises which might occur in the future,” Wissanu said. The Culture Ministry’s National Archive would document the facts and lessons shared by the dozens of rescuers from various fields, he added.

Rescuers shared accounts of the boys’ experiences in the rescue operation at the opening.

The rescue effort was so difficult, it was coined “mission impossible,” as the dive was strenuous even for experienced divers.

Beyond the exhibit, the King of Thailand Maha Vajiralongkorn has ordered the government to host an event to pay tribute to all the rescue teams locally and across the world for rescuing all the boys and their coach, Wissanu said in The Nation’s report.

Nearly 8,000 rescuers are invited to see the exhibition at the event on Sept. 8, he added.

After closing in Bangkok, the exhibit will tour the country.

In an ABC News interview released this week, the team expressed gratitude for rescuers and explained how “overwhelmed” they were when two British divers found them on July 2, over a week after they had become trapped.


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