Thai cave rescuer dies from year-long blood infection

Rescuers install a water pump inside Tham Luang cave on June 28, 2018 in Chiang Rai, ThailandImage copyright
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The rescue operation took 17 days and brought the boys and their coach out alive

A member of the rescue team that saved 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand last year has died from an infection he picked up during the operation, officials said.

Petty Officer Beirut Pakbara, a Thai Navy Seal, contracted a blood infection during the rescue at Tham Luang cave.

Beirut was under medical supervision but his condition worsened and he died on Friday, a statement said.

Another rescuer, Saman Gunan, died during the operation.

Saman, a former Thai Navy Seal diver, had been delivering air tanks and was on his way out of the cave complex when he ran out of air and lost consciousness. A statue of him was later erected near the cave’s entrance.

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Beirut was buried on Friday in his home province of Satun in a ceremony according to Islamic funeral rituals, officials said.

The Wild Boars youth football team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach had been exploring the cave on 23 June 2018 when a downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them deep underground.

Media captionHow the Thai cave boys were rescued

They were all eventually freed in a 17-day international rescue effort that involved more than 90 divers and captured the attention of the world’s press.

The cave in Thailand’s northern Chiang Rai province was only reopened to tourists in November this year. The opening ceremony was attended by monks, government officials and park rangers.

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It was the first time tourists had been allowed inside the cave since the rescue last year