Two divers from Kharkiv Vsevolod Korobov and Maksym Polezhaka were among brave voluntary rescuers from all over the world, who took part in the unprecedented operation in northern Thailand, which was successfully completed on July 10. All 12 boys and their football coach were rescued from a cave after 18 days trapped underground.
Korobov noted that Kharkivites joined the operation from the very first days. They made their way towards the children in the cave. The Ukrainians swam under the water for about a kilometer to deliver oxygen, food, water, clothes to the cave, fastening the ropes that created the lifeline, which was used to pull the children out.
Not only did the experienced Ukrainian divers pass the most difficult 3-kilometer section of the cave, they also worked as coaches. “Our task was to teach Thai Navy Seals to dive in impenetrable perilous caves, as they had no such experience. We managed to help them to do this and the Thai military included us in their support team,” Vsevolod Korobov noted.
The members of a local teenage football team led by their coach entered one of the Thai caves on June 23 but could not get out as a heavy rainstorm flooded the exit. The rescue operation started on July 2. About 3,000 military men and divers from Australia, the United States, China, Thailand, Israel and other countries banded together to rescue the children and their coach. Thai navy diver Saman Gunan died while replenishing oxygen tanks.
World leaders lauded the selfless rescuers. “The world was watching and will be saluting the bravery of all those involved,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Vsevolod Korobov FB