Buddhist monk freed from flooded cave in Thailand after four days

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Media caption,

A team of divers rescued the monk after four days inside

Thai rescue workers have freed a Buddhist monk from a flooded cave, four days after he went inside to meditate.

The monk, who was on a pilgrimage, entered the cave in Thailand's Phitsanulok province on Saturday, rescuers say.

But an unseasonal rainstorm struck the area on Sunday, causing water levels to rise and flood the cave.

A team of 17 divers from a local rescue unit helped to bring the monk out to safety on Wednesday.

Image source, Ruamkatanyu Foundation Phitsanulok Province
Image caption,
An unseasonal rainstorm caused flooding in the cave

The monk, Phra Ajarn Manas, 46, makes a pilgrimage to the Phra Sai Ngam cave each year "to sit in contemplation", a local rescue unit said in a Facebook post (in Thai).

But when he did not return after the heavy rain, residents in the area alerted authorities.

Rescuers went in to find him on Tuesday, but had to call off the search due to rising water levels.

The unit said they had no contact with the monk because there was no phone signal inside the cave and the area could only be accessed by divers. They were concerned he may be "exhausted or unconscious because of not having food at all".

A team of 17 divers managed to reach the monk on Wednesday morning after the rain stopped.

"At 11.30am we successfully rescued Phra Manas from the cave," the rescue unit announced on their Facebook page.

Image source, Ruamkatanyu Foundation Phitsanulok Province
Image caption,
The monk was brought to safety on Wednesday

A video posted by rescuers shows the monk fitted with a diving mask making a 12-metre swim underwater.

He was was led out of the cave to safety and received treatment in an ambulance, footage on social media shows.

The incident has similarities to the 2018 ordeal of the Wild Boars football team, when 12 boys and their football coach became stuck in a flooded cave in the northern town of Chiang Rai.

Thai Navy Seals and an international team of cave divers managed to rescue the boys and their coach from the cave.

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