In Pictures

Thailand cave: The successful search for lost boys

On 23 June, 12 boys and their coach went to explore a cave after football practice in northern Thailand. Nine days later, all 13 have been found alive.

A huge rescue operation involving the Thai Navy and Air Force finally managed to find the group deep within the cave system.

Thai soldiers and police gather in the mountains near the Tham Luang cave Image copyright AFP

Shortly after the group's bikes were found abandoned at the entrance last month, heavy rain sent torrents of water through the cave.

Rescuers hoped that the boys aged 11 to 16 and their coach were alive deep inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave. They hoped the group could find safety on a mound in an underground chamber, after being trapped by flood waters.

Thai officials work to reduce the water level in a cave complex at the Tham Luang cave Image copyright EPA

A photo of one of the missing boys, Prachak Sutham, is shown on the phone of a Thai student, below.

A Thai student shows a picture of missing classmate Prachak Sutham Image copyright AFP

Thai Navy divers, along with four British cave divers and some US military personnel, worked hard to try to reach the deepest caverns of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave, the fourth longest in Thailand.

Scuba tanks are delivered to the rescue operation site for the Thai navy Image copyright Getty Images
Thai officials carry oxygen tanks through a cave complex at the Tham Luang cave Image copyright EPA

British cave-diver Robert Charles Harper is seen exploring an opening in the mountain during the rescue operation, below.

British cave-diver Robert Charles Harper explores an opening in the mountain during the rescue operation Image copyright AFP

Industrial water pumps were used to reduce the water level inside the cave, but struggled against relentless rain.

Rescue workers carry heavy water pumping equipment into Tham Luang Nang Non cave Image copyright Getty Images
Water is pumped out of Tham Luang Nang Non cave into a lake on the foot of Doi Nang Non mountain range Image copyright Getty Images

The entrance to the cave became flooded, with efforts shifted to finding other ways to access and reduce water in the cave, involving drilling through rock to drain water.

Thai soldiers run down the road leading to the Tham Luang cave Image copyright AFP
Soldiers and rescue workers work in Tham Luang cave complex Image copyright Reuters

Drones equipped with thermal cameras were used to detect possible access points and an underwater robot sent back information on the water depth and condition of the cave.

Sniffer dogs were also used after smelling clothing belonging to the missing children.

Helicopter from Thai air force carry a mini excavator to the mountain top where they are trying to make a hole to get into Tham Luang Nang Non cave Image copyright Getty Images
A Thai Airforce worker drops in by helicopter into a clearing in the forest near a possible overground opening to the Tham Luang cave Image copyright AFP

On Monday, shortly before they were found, rescuers said they believed they were less than 1km (0.6 miles) from where the boys may be, but were blocked by a narrow tunnel.

Thai air force officers make preparations for the helicopter at a helipad near Tham Luang cave Image copyright Getty Images
Soldiers and rescue workers work in Tham Luang cave complex Image copyright Reuters

The group's plight gripped the country and led to an outpouring of support and hope, along with press attention.

The press waits for an official announcement at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park on 30 June Image copyright Getty Images

Hundreds of volunteers joined the military and police in the search operation.

Prayers and rituals took place for the missing group, including by a monk at an altar near the Tham Luang cave, below left.

A hermit was photographed performing a ritual beside the road leading to Tham Luang cave (below right).

A monk lights a candle at an altar near the Tham Luang cave and a hermit performs a ritual Image copyright AFP

On Saturday, an ethnic Akha shaman was seen at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park performing religious rituals to help the search, below.

An ethnic Akha shaman perform religious rituals in order to help finding the missing children and their coach at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park Image copyright Getty Images

On Monday, ethnic Lisu tribespeople held a ritual involving a sacrificial chicken to appease the spirits of Tham Luang cave.

Ethnic Lisu tribespeople hold a ritual in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park Image copyright Getty Images
An Ethnic Lisu tribeswoman holds a sacrificial chicken during a ritual in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park Image copyright AFP

Thai medical experts had said the group's survival depended on whether they can find fresh drinking water and they could survive for eight days without food.

Thai soldiers stand at the mouth of Tham Luang cave Image copyright AFP

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