The Rescue (2021) Movie Script

We need sandbag...
to stop water coming in,
and we need a generator...
to pump water out.
And we need to do it quick.
If they've gone this way, no,
they die already.
They know what to do, yeah?
The boys,
aged between 11 and 16 years old,
are all members of a Thai soccer team.
They became stranded in the dark tunnels
after a sudden and continuous downpour
blocked all exits.
This rain is gonna get worse and worse
and worse as the months go by,
four months of monsoon.
It will flood out that cave system,
so there will be no hope of getting out
if we don't get them out very soon.
Before they went into the cave complex,
they were planning to celebrate
a birthday party,
and that's what the boys were doing
when they found suddenly
it was raining heavily outside the cave
and the water level inside
started increasing.
I've been involved very heavily
with the exploration of the cave,
that's how I became known as
you know, locally,
the crazy foreign caver.
Here's the junction.
When I first started exploring
the Tham Luang system,
it was just
over six-and-a-half kilometers long.
Over the years,
we've extended it to ten kilometers.
And today it's the fourth longest
cave system in Thailand.
Tham Luang is made up
of three main passages.
One runs from the entrance to Sam Yaek,
known as the T-junction.
Water had come in
from the right-hand branch,
and it blocked their route out.
So, the boys weren't actually missing,
they were trapped.
The Navy SEALs, with, uh, respect,
you know, they're a strong
disciplined outfit,
but cave diving needs specific skills
and specific types of equipment.
We went to what we call the "war room. "
I waited for Governor Narongsak.
And in my normal blunt way, said to him,
"Sir, you have one chance at this rescue. "
I told him that we need
expert cave divers out here.
He showed this note
to the Minister of Interior...
saying these are the best cave divers
in the world.
Get the smile on, Mr. Stanton.
- Yep. How many?
- Two please, and quite a thick one.
That's it, perfect. That's four quid.
When I see a dark space in a cave,
it fascinates me.
It's like, I wonder what's there.
To most people, it's an alien environment.
It's dark, it could be claustrophobic.
To most people, that would be a disaster,
but this is the strange world that
I enjoy. Caving, cave diving.
You can look at a cave in two ways.
You could say,
I'm under hundreds of feet
and tons and tons of rock,
my life's in danger.
Or you can say, my world
is this small passage, actually it's okay.
I think this is actually
just a cunning ploy...
For people of my generation
in the cave diving world,
Rick and John, you know,
they're sort of like
the figureheads, the idols to us.
The first time I dived with Rick
was in this cave in New Zealand
called the Pearse Resurgence,
which is an extraordinarily
intimidating place.
It's really deep, it's freezing cold,
it's black, like, it soaks up your light.
And I'd heard about the famous
Rick Stanton, of course.
But he turns up with this dry suit
that looks like it's 50 years old
and he's got this homemade harness
with a big lump of lead
between his shoulder blades
that are sort of sticky taped on.
And he's got a homemade
side mount rebreather.
I mean, both those words are terrifying.
The side mount rebreather
was made from scratch
because there wasn't such
a thing available.
All the components were made by me
on a lath or a mill.
And so, Rick, using
this extraordinary bit of homemade kit...
jumped in the cave
and casually swims down to a new record.
And we're all just going, "Far out,
there's no way
I'll ever be like that guy. "
John and I have been involved
in some very significant caving events,
which could take you right to the edge.
And just going to those places...
you can't fail to have a bond.
John's one of these people
that's done a lot of activities,
and does them
all with a huge degree of success.
First it was marathons,
then he got on to ultramarathons.
Very competent climber.
Really good kayaker.
Doing all of these dangerous things,
has that made relationships
difficult for you?
Well, I wouldn't...
Just because an activity
is seen as dangerous
doesn't mean to say that you do it
in a dangerous manner.
But to answer your question,
probably yes.
I don't know how to explain this.
Did you fall in love?
Amp called me and she said,
"Have you heard?
"There's a football team
trapped in a cave. "
I was thinking
this has actually got our name
all over it.
We realized that we had a contact
on the ground,
a British guy, Vern Unsworth.
He knew the cave very, very well.
Vern had got the critical note
to the Thai Minister of Tourism and Sport.
Vern rang and said,
"You're coming to Thailand
and you're on the half-past nine flight
that night. "
They flew us out business class,
which was quite an experience.
I quite liked that.
That was great,
because we are volunteers,
we don't get paid.
We arrived in Chiang Rai airport.
There was a big sign-up that said,
"Welcome to the World's Best Cave Divers. "
And we were marched out to this sign
and had to pose in front of it.
All very embarrassing.
When we arrived at the cave site,
there was complete chaos.
I've had a full career
in the fire service,
I've been to big incidents,
I've seen chaos, but not to this scale.
We were followed around by press cameras,
there were rescue people everywhere.
Where's the people
that are supposed to be leading us?
Somehow we managed to find Vern.
He said they'd seen the cave
progressively flood
in the last three days.
Just too much flow.
It was a difficult time.
Some people were thinking,
"Are their kids still alive?"
You know, "Where can they be?"
We decided that we wanted to go in
and see as much as possible
before it flooded further.
As we walked in the entrance chamber,
which was a huge chamber,
there were electric lights blazing,
hoses, pumps and telephone wires.
Although the governor
was in charge of the incident,
he had devolved all responsibility
for the diving to the Navy SEALs,
and they were very clear
that they wouldn't let us go in the water.
Our area of expertise is different.
At that point,
it's really not safe to go in.
The UK team still insisted.
It got quite heated.
You understand
there are 13 children...
- I don't care, okay?
- ... in the cave?
The argument went all the way up top.
He actually told the UK guy,
"If you die in there,
don't expecting us to go fetch your body. "
If you are the Thai Navy SEALs,
and suddenly,
two scruffy-looking,
middle-aged men turn up,
I can see how that really is a bad...
start to a relationship.
When we got out, it really was raining.
Absolute monsoon on steroids.
We were taken back to the hotel
in the back of an open pickup.
Literally cowering behind the cab
to try and get out of the rain.
John and I had to share a double bed.
One... We did top and tail.
So, the next morning, John and I
set off from the entrance chamber
with all our equipment,
our cylinders on our harness.
Nobody came in the cave with us.
Only 200 meters from the entrance,
the water met the rock
and it was a proper sump dive.
From the entrance chamber,
now to the second and third chamber,
was a river, a raging river.
So, the term I would use
is "white water caving. "
Very poor visibility.
Really brown, really chocolaty brown.
There's a ton of man-made hazards as well.
Telephone wire...
cables. All sorts of things.
We surfaced
in what became known as "Chamber Three. "
We thought
we'd found four of the football team.
They were pump workers.
They had been asleep on the sandbank,
missed the evacuation
and got flooded into the cave.
And nobody knew they were missing.
We didn't know if that chamber
was going to flood completely
in hours or minutes.
We needed to dive
these four guys out immediately.
They were terrified,
but they didn't have another option.
We just gave them a regulator
from one of the cylinders
that was still attached to us.
So, we have to keep them very close to us
or the regulator in their mouth
is going to be pulled out
and they're not going to be able
to breathe.
It's highly disorientating being led,
basically blind, underwater.
It was quite brutal,
they were banging their heads,
we were moving them around,
trying to find the right hole
for them to go through.
All of the pump workers reacted the same,
the second they thought
they were under airspace,
they kind of bolted up
without any thought.
I described it
as an underwater wrestling match.
After getting the pump workers out
we didn't turn around
and go back in the cave,
it was too dangerous.
The four water workers,
they were underwater
for only 30, 40 seconds...
but they still panicked
and they were adults.
Now, we were talking
about a group of children.
We didn't think it was possible for us
to dive the children out.
Even if they were alive,
it can't be done.
Now, what the hell are we gonna do now?
The Thais were all praying
for success in the mission.
They believed that success could only come
if they had the permission
from the guardian spirit.
I know as soon as I got down,
I had to pay respects to those shrines.
It has been
seven days since this team of 12 Thai boys
and their football coach has been missing
in this vast cave complex.
Water levels in the cave have been rising,
going up overnight
by six inches every hour.
High water levels
have made the search very challenging,
but divers use huge pumps
to reduce some of that water.
Now, volunteers have been traveling
to northern Thailand
to help with the rescue operation.
This has become,
really, a worldwide rescue effort.
Volunteers from Europe,
Australia, Asia and the U.S.
Today, I am training
in the Khao Yai National Park.
- You need gasoline for...
- One thousand...
That evening,
we met the American military
who had deployed from Japan.
Rick and John
were very laid back, you know?
They were definitely not
what you're used to seeing
in the military.
Shorts and flip flops and T-shirts.
But, as I started speaking with them,
I realized that they were very,
very highly skilled.
I had gone in myself to Chamber Three
where I had to do a couple of short dives,
but I was thinking to myself,
"Man, this is absolutely horrible. "
I remember John kind of laughed at me
because he knew the next question I had,
"Why would someone do this for fun?"
Cave diving for me is relaxing.
Nobody tells you what to do...
your time is your own.
It's very liberating.
But having said that, most of the time
it is jumping into a muddy hole.
That's exactly right.
Caving is clearly
about the exploration side of it.
Some of the dives we do,
you could be hours in,
totally reliant on artificial light,
artificial heating.
It's like being in space.
Probably the purest adventure
you could have.
It takes a peculiar type of person
to be a cave diving explorer.
What makes someone want to be
an explorer?
I think it's two parts ego,
one part curiosity,
one part, um...
um, lack of confidence in yourself
and a need to prove yourself.
You know, maybe I was no good
at footy and cricket,
but at least I can, you know,
cave dive quite well.
I think it's fair to say all of us
were not team players.
None of us are very good
with ball skills.
I was a loser.
I'm terrible at team sports.
I think "doesn't play well with others"
is the phrase that you're looking for.
I was quiet and shy
and didn't like confrontation.
I wasn't so sociable.
I was bullied a bit as a teenager, yeah,
'cause I was a little bit different.
I've got a lazy left eye.
Which, when I was younger,
actually pointed in the wrong direction.
Which is quite funny looking back on it
'cause it was quite a big part
of my life at the time,
like, it was quite a self...
I was quite self-conscious about it,
you know? Kids are mean.
There's no question
that in my younger years
I started off
perhaps emotionally challenged.
Yeah, I wasn't the most social person.
A bit of bullying at school and stuff,
but the worst people
I've blocked out of my mind.
But once I get underground,
that all disappears.
Can't see anything,
just my bubbles.
It's the place where I,
kind of feel comfortable
and feel like, I...
feel safe.
Quiet and peace.
Get away from everything
in normal society.
Back to the age of the cave man.
It comes back
to that kind of ability
to expand your comfort zone...
but probably
some people's worst nightmares.
It's about controlling
your emotions and your fear...
because panic is death in the cave.
There is still a reason for optimism.
Medical experts say it is possible
to stay alive for this period of time
without food.
But in an operation like this, every hour
is important. And every hour...
Even when it's not raining,
rescuers say water is continuing
to seep into the cave.
They're up in the mountains right now
trying to divert it away.
You have to hike, and then you have
to actually look for places
where the water, like, disappears.
If we found cracks,
we laid out plastic bags,
and divert the water
by using sandbags and a pipe.
You know, just behind us,
there's some heavy equipment
that's just been brought in here
to pump out more water from the caves.
And Howard, we were talking yesterday
about the British divers
who've gone out there.
I asked them for an update,
but they walked past, very stony-faced.
They've been very media shy.
Actually, they've been keeping
their heads down
and getting on with the job.
The next morning,
we decided to see if we could progress.
Now there was another guy on the scene,
a Belgian guy called Ben Reymenants.
We met Ben when he was coming out
from his dive.
The three of us are chest deep
in water in this little pool.
He said it was impossible
to make progress.
The flow was so strong,
that if I would've turned my head,
my mask would've been ripped off.
My watch had broken against the rocks.
My dry suit was leaking.
I couldn't properly breath.
"This is suicide. What am I doing?"
We essentially agreed
that the conditions
in the cave were impossible.
The monsoon had come early,
and it wasn't going to let up
for many months.
There was a very strong feeling
that the children couldn't be still alive.
It just didn't... it didn't seem possible.
We lost hope.
The American contingent
also felt it's a lost cause.
We were really kind of just sat around
waiting for a body recovery.
...fancied Belgium come face to face
with the only Asian team left
in the competition...
People had their mobile phones
and were looking at the World Cup.
We just sat around.
We were quite despondent,
with the fate of those children
in our thoughts.
We started to wonder,
"Do we actually need to be here?"
We reached out to the British consular,
saying, "Can he sort some flights out?"
And that didn't go down very well.
They're doing everything possible
to stem the flow of water
into the cave system.
Standing here four days ago
I would've been knee deep in water.
It's quite a feat of engineering.
Rick and I went
to the Americans and said, "Look,
"We want to get back in the game.
Can you help us?"
So, eventually, the Thais
allowed us back in the cave.
On that Sunday morning,
Ben had done quite a bit of work
continuing the line of the SEALs.
I give credit to Ben and the SEALs
for persevering
when we thought
it was absolutely impossible.
I am extremely disappointed in myself...
that we kind of gave up when we did.
That shouldn't have happened.
We laid line on Sunday.
The next day, John and I took another
two bags of rope to continue it.
One of the golden rules of cave diving
is to have a continuous line
between you and safety.
After two or three hours,
we reached a junction.
Which is about 800 meters
beyond Chamber Three.
Tham Luang is one
of the longest caves in Thailand.
The cave lies under
the Doi Nang Non mountain range.
From the entrance,
it's 800 meters to Chamber Three.
Chamber Three had enough dry land
that the SEALs were in residence there.
And then beyond that, you were largely
in the water the whole way.
The next feature is the T-junction.
Two underground rivers
unite at the T-junction
and then flow to the entrance.
We thought the possible places
where the kids could've found sanctuary
was a place called Pattaya Beach.
Pattaya Beach is the most
comfortable area.
It was the highest area as well.
We progressed by feel
and dead reckoning.
We've no idea what we're going to find.
So, I was just feeling around in the murk.
We had no idea whether we were going
to encounter dead bodies.
We were stealing ourselves
from that eventuality.
I know what I was prepared to bump into
because I'd visualized it very,
very carefully.
I'm a great believer in visualization.
I try and put emotions in a box.
I can visualize a shelf,
and I put the box on the top shelf
and I leave it there,
and I do what I need to do.
As we got to any airspace,
I took my mask off and had a sniff.
Caves have got a very neutral smell.
You'd easily smell people
that had been in there for ten days,
defecating, decaying.
Rick and I had already discussed
that we would lay the thick line
as far as we could.
and then I had a reel
of 200 meters of thinner line.
We would use these to give us
maximum possible reach into the cave.
Everyone had held their hopes out
that the children were at this place
called Pattaya Beach.
We did know from the survey
that was the only section of the cave
that traveled due east.
So, when our compasses
started to point east...
we were at the mythical Pattaya Beach.
Everything was underwater.
We actually retraced our route there
a few times.
But there was absolutely nowhere
a group of people could have survived.
I was getting quite keen to turn around
because I was way beyond
any sensible air margin.
Rule number one,
use a third of your air on the way in,
a third on the way out,
and you keep a third for spare.
But I just had
this powerful feeling that...
just that it was time to push.
It was the right time to push.
So, we continue upstream...
trying to follow the flow.
It was instantaneous.
A pungent smell.
We both assumed
we were smelling decomposing bodies.
There's something unpleasant here.
And then, suddenly, I saw a light flash.
John immediately got out the camera.
John, light it up. Yeah, best you can.
How many of you?
- Thirteen.
- Thirteen?
- Yeah, thirteen.
- Brilliant.
Yeah, yeah.
Believe. Believe.
On the audio, there's me saying "Believe. "
That was me trying to tell me,
"This is real.
"This is actually happening. "
No. Not today.
- Please?
Not today.
We have to dive.
We are coming. It's okay.
It's okay.
Many people are coming.
Many, many people.
We are the first. Many people come.
Tomorrow. No, no, no. What day is it now?
I don't know...
Monday, Monday.
Okay but one week and Monday.
You have been here ten days.
Ten days. You are very strong.
Very strong.
I don't know.
Okay, get back. We come. We come.
I know. I know. I understand.
We come. Okay. We come.
We took our equipment off
on the other side of the passage
and made our way over to them.
I mean, clearly, John has a son.
And I haven't got children.
I've structured my life to avoid children
as much as possible.
But John is a cub master,
so he's used to dealing
with groups of children.
Say... Thumbs up. Say, "Yay!"
- Yay!
- Yay!
He got them to do
a motivational exercise.
Everybody say, "Yeah!"
- Yeah!
- Yeah!
Excellent. Say, "Hello, Americans. "
- Hello, Americans.
- Hello, Americans.
Hello, Thai Navy.
- Hello, Thai Navy.
- Hello, Thai Navy.
Say, "Hello, Australians. "
- Hello, Australia.
- Hello, Australia.
Hello, Chinese.
- Hello, Chinese.
- Hello, Chinese.
And thank you, everybody else.
- And thank you, everybody.
- And thank you, everybody.
Okay. We see you soon.
As we left, pretty much all of them
came and hugged us individually.
I made them a promise
that I would come back.
I am really happy you're here.
We are happy too.
Yes. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much.
So, where you come from?
England, UK.
As we went round the corner
and kitted up,
total silence between me and John,
...looking to each other's faces thinking,
"We may be the only ones
that ever see them. "
That was a distinct possibility.
The whole journey back,
all I was thinking was,
"What on earth are we going to do now?"
I surfaced first in Chamber Three
where the Thai Navy SEALs had their base.
Thirteen alive.
They're okay. Yeah.
You close.
We've got a message. This is...
Good job, man.
immediately relayed the news
to the outside.
Shortly after we exited,
the footage was released
all over the world.
Live images coming out of Thailand.
Dramatic breaking news.
You are very strong.
A true miracle.
The moment.
Thailand's prayers have paid off.
- Thank you.
- Thank you very much.
Your troops are doing
a really good job.
Back at you too.
What a remarkable turn of events.
I would like to say thank you to everyone.
We are team.
Yes, team, yes.
That night, there was as battle meeting
at the American camp with the Thai Navy.
This was a formal meeting
with Rear Admiral Apakorn.
Rick and John told the Thais
finding the boys was the easy part,
and they really didn't have a clue
how to get those kids out.
Rear Admiral Apakorn thanked us
for our role of being path finders.
And he said, "The Thai SEALs
would take over chain of command
"and you will just be
in an advisory role. "
Suddenly, it was like a navy going to war.
The Thai Navy SEALs
carried in vast quantities of equipment,
the piles of diving cylinders.
The task was absolutely massive
and crucial.
They had a lot of people
and a lot of equipment.
But we started to hear
that their first set of divers
had run into problems.
The four that were left
were effectively trapped in
with the children.
Authorities there are looking
at all of their options,
none of them easy.
Right now, the preferable option
is to keep them down there.
It could be months
to get those boys out safely.
Sending in supplies
and waiting until the season
of the monsoons and flooding is over,
they said that could be till October.
The search also continues
in the hills and jungle
above the cave complex.
Workers looking for any way
to get into the cave
beyond the flooded sections.
Another possibility they're looking at
is drilling new entries into the caves
so they can pull them out.
Creating the shaft large enough
will be extremely complicated
and could take a long time.
The only real alternative
is to pump out the water.
They're pumping out
something like 1.6 million liters of water
and it only went down one centimeter.
There's almost a one in a billion chance
that any of these things
could have worked.
And so the Americans were getting worried,
and they were asking us,
"Was there anything that we could do?"
We said we didn't think it was possible
for us to dive the children out.
The experience with the four pump workers
was an indication of that,
where they couldn't even hold it together
for 30 seconds,
let alone two-and-a-half-hours.
We said it can't be done.
I was like, "Well, what if it could?"
What does the impossible look like?
When we got back
to our resort that night,
we continued thinking it through.
I texted an old friend,
Dr. Richard Harris from Australia.
It was on a Thursday,
the 5th of July,
when I started
exchanging messages with Rick.
I said, "Is it possible
to anesthetize the children?"
My immediate response to Rick
was, "Absolutely not. It's not possible. "
Early one morning,
Harry's phone had been
pinging away all night, and I had a look,
and I saw the message from Rick saying,
"What do you think about sedating
the boys and diving them out?"
And I actually laughed.
I laughed. It just sounded ludicrous.
I could think of a 100 ways
a child would die very quickly.
For example, to maintain your airway,
you know, you need to keep their chin up.
At any time during the dive,
the child's airway could obstruct.
They would asphyxiate.
Their sinuses could fill up with blood.
They could drown in their own saliva.
Honestly, I could talk for an hour
about the ways
that I thought these kids could die.
So, the next morning,
we had a proper voice conversation,
and he said he was willing
to consider it, give it some thought.
At the same time, we realized
it's two days since we'd found them
and no proper meals had gone in.
We took it upon ourselves to scrounge
some ration packs off the Americans.
It just seemed a bit ludicrous to me,
relying on bracelets.
I said, "Rick, those kids
really believe in spirits.
"It will improve their morale.
It really is important. "
Then he calmed down. He said,
"Okay, just leave... Put 'em in.
I'll take them in there. "
It was a desperate struggle
dragging these two huge bags of food
against the current.
My most difficult dive yet.
When we got to the children
they were really excited to see us.
Their morale was good.
We passed the bracelets
out to the boys one by one.
And they knew what they were,
reaching their hands out to get them.
Dr. Bhak put two of the boys
to work stacking the food
in neat, orderly piles,
they didn't tear into it.
As they were eating,
both John and I felt the air
was starting to feel a little bit stale.
I think it's recording.
The effort of climbing the slope,
the panting that was required.
Let's just do a count down. Hang on.
So, I turned the oxygen monitor on
and it immediately went into full alarm...
and registered 15 percent.
For the oxygen, anything under 18 percent
is not sustainable to life
in the long term.
I couldn't look the children
in their eyes.
Breaking news right now out of Thailand.
We just found out that
a Thai Navy SEAL working to save
those young boys inside that deep,
dark cave has died.
The man who died was young, he was fit,
he was a former Navy SEAL.
Authorities say, "38-year-old Saman Gunan,
who'd rejoined the SEALs
"solely to help the search,
died from lack of oxygen. "
The bundle of neoprene wetsuits
was really buoyant
and it would've been
a huge burden to take in.
On his way back, he ran out of air
fairly close to the third chamber.
Unfortunately, it was Saman.
It could've been another one earlier on.
Saman is in the SEALs.
They were operating in an environment
they're not used to.
None of them had dived in caves
and the kit they had
was completely unsuitable.
They were unbelievably brave.
The moment Saman Gunan died,
the Rear Admiral said,
"We won't be diving
to the boys any further. "
And from that time on,
there was no further diving
by Thai SEALs beyond Chamber Three.
The Thai Navy SEALs
put everything they had into it.
They risked their lives,
I would say, more than the Brits.
But they didn't have the skill set,
and they couldn't quite figure out
why these old men were a lot better
at doing it than them.
But no special force in the world
has those skills.
Only this private group of people
who do it as a weekend hobby.
The moment I found the boys,
Amp said that I totally changed.
The responsibility despite not officially
being on my shoulders
was morally on my shoulders.
It had to be us.
In the morning, I had
a chat with Harry. I told him the truth.
I said sedation was the only option.
He said he'd come out to help us,
but not to sedate them.
Maybe I sounded like I just thought
this would be a good jolly
or a good adventure to Rick.
Because he said to me on the phone...
"If you come here,
and you dive to the children,
"and you're not prepared to sedate them,
"you will see the children
and they will die. "
This plan, still so preposterous.
Surely this is not gonna work.
And the thought of just bringing out
the bodies of these kids
was just too much for me.
How many times
have you had to remove bodies...
which have been left in caves?
It's not quite double figures,
but I think it's around nine, I think.
I went to Mexico in 1994
in a very deep cave,
1,000-meter-deep cave.
My best friend was operating
as a diver on that project
and he had an incident and he did die.
It was traumatic, 'cause he was such
a close friend, and it was so hands-on.
He wasn't in a stretcher,
he wasn't wrapped up.
Despite Harry's skepticism, I became more
and more convinced this was the only way.
So, the next morning,
I told Derek the concept.
I told him it's a horrible idea.
And then Rick said,
"What if it's the only idea?"
I was highly skeptical.
But I believed in their talents
and their abilities.
I asked,
"If you could put together
the best team in the world
"of guys that you would need to do this,
who would it be?"
I had a message from John saying,
"We don't think the time and treatment
can affect the evacuation.
"That means we need you
and you need Jason. "
I was climbing
the internal structure of a building,
checked my phone, and Chris says,
"We're flying out tonight. "
I was a couple of days
from the end of my holiday,
on my way down a mountain in Italy.
I get a text saying,
"How soon can you be ready?"
I was ringing my boss to get time off.
I was actually meant to attend
my friend's stag do on that Saturday.
When I realized I was gonna be
headed over to Thailand,
I went in to visit my dad
in the nursing home.
His dad, he didn't understand
the cave diving thing.
Definitely less than me,
and they had a bit of a long running joke.
He would constantly ask
when I was gonna give up cave diving,
'cause it worried him, obviously.
And I'd always joke with him, saying,
"Oh, actually, that was my last dive,
I'm finished now. "
And he'd go,
"That's great. I'm so relieved. "
And then he'd look at me
and then roar with laughter
as he'd realized I was pulling his leg.
So, we had a good chat,
and then I headed off the next day.
So, when we arrived at the cave,
we step out of this minivan
to a sea of cameras staring us down.
I found it really frightening actually.
We found John and Rick,
and they looked a bit shagged.
The first thing I said was,
"Look, I've got to dive the cave,
get to the end, see the kids myself,
"convince myself that there's no other way
to get them out. "
My partner, Craig,
and I swam to the children.
It was just a muddy hole, really.
As I surfaced,
the filth floating on the water
meant we were in the final chamber
where the kids were.
When I realized I was actually
about to meet these boys,
of course,
I thought about my own children.
I was slightly horrified
how thin they looked.
And I could hear a couple
of them coughing, pretty wet coughs.
They looked weak to me,
but it's incredible to me still
that there was not one trembling lip,
not a tear, not any sign of any concern.
I just spent
the whole time swimming out
and thinking about what we were gonna do.
And I guess that's when I decided that,
"Yeah, I'm just gonna have
to get on board with this plan. "
At that point, we need the bodies,
the guys who were able
to help alleviate some
of the work load off John and Rick.
We were kind of a team
that's living in Thailand already.
Kind of the technical dive instructors.
Most of us were from Europe.
We rolled them in immediately
into our team.
The team was ready,
but the Thai authorities
were still unwilling to make a decision
and give the go ahead.
Conditions worsening,
air supply dwindling,
and the other concern looming
is the monsoon rain in the forecast.
We now had two ticking clocks,
the oxygen and the weather.
...afternoon as we get thunderstorms
that developed,
this is a tell-tale sign
of the monsoons really.
The Thai Navy SEALs want zero risk.
That's not gonna happen.
But what appeared to tip the balance
was a gentleman called, "Josh Morris. "
When I arrived, I said,
"I have a climbing and caving school,
"and I speak Thai. "
Thanet and I were working together.
Then I bumped into Vern, who let me know,
kind of, things weren't so hunky-dory.
I have access to, like... So, I...
So, they won't listen to us now.
- I just bumped into him this morning,
and I'd be happy to communicate for you.
Shall I take notes?
John was visibly stressed.
And he said, "If it rains,
"and the waters come up,
nobody's getting in that cave.
"The conditions are terrible in there.
"They're in those blankets
and everybody looks happy,
"but the room stinks,
they don't have any food, they've got
cuts, like, they're gonna get sick. "
I said, "What are you talking about?
I haven't heard any of that.
"How much food do they have?"
And he said,
"They've got about a 100 meals. "
- Oxygen is at what level now? Do we know?
- So we measured it at 15.
But we're not... It could be 16 percent.
You know we play it safe.
How about the dive?
How do you guys feel about that?
It's exceptionally, exceptionally risky.
But they haven't got any other chance.
You don't think there's any chance?
- If they don't dive...
- Are you recording?
Finally, we got the audience
we needed that night.
The Minister of the Interior came,
and everybody ended up
in the room together,
and I helped to translate.
We just walked them through the plan.
I think the biggest questions
that people were having still
was, like, the risk, you know? And like,
I told 'em, "It's extremely risky.
"But if you could get one kid back
to their parents alive,
"that to me would be a success. "
They asked me lots of questions.
"Why was I choosing this drug?
Why was I choosing these doses?"
And I had to keep emphasizing to them,
"Look, this is my best guess,
"nobody's ever done it before,
I am totally open to a better suggestion. "
I remember feeling like
a used car salesman
who was trying to sell an old bomb
to some unsuspecting people...
um, and I just... I felt like just a liar.
They kept asking,
"Can we just leave them in there?"
That kept coming back on the table.
And I said,
"Well, we're running out of oxygen. "
Also, we calculated 2,000 meals
we'd have to bring in.
And once the rain started again
you couldn't swim against those flows.
And then Thanet and I
ended back up in another meeting.
At one point I said to the minister,
"The only guarantee I can give you
is that if you don't dive,
"everyone will die.
"I don't envy you, sir.
Both choices are terrible,
"but one is worse than the other. "
Still, the following morning,
we didn't have the go ahead,
but we came up
with an actual, logistical plan,
the real nuts and bolts
of how it was going to work.
How we were going to transport the boys
to how we were gonna package them.
The cylinder was going to go
on the front of the child, not the back.
So that when they were floating face down,
that tank would act like a keel.
We worked out that you needed
positive pressure masks...
so if you made a leak,
it'd go outwards and not inwards.
And the Americans happened
to have four of these masks.
So, that meant we'd go in multiple times.
We had to go in every day, for three days.
There was a demonstration
that was done,
the Americans called it a rock drill.
A big drill called
the rehearsal of concept.
We kind of simulated the extraction
as best we could.
If the water comes up...
It was useful, but it was more useful
for people making the decisions.
They suddenly realized that, sort of,
there is some method to the madness,
and maybe we could pull it off.
One of the foreign affairs guys
from Australia came up to me and said,
"Look, in the...
in the interest of full disclosure,
"I just need to tell you
that if something goes wrong
"during the rescue, it's not impossible
"that you could end up
in the Thai judicial system. "
And I said,
"What? You mean, 'imprisonment'?"
And he said, "Yeah,
that's sort of the worst-case scenario,
"and the rules here are pretty harsh. "
If things had gone wrong,
public opinion would have turned
against them very quickly.
There was an extraction plan in place.
To put us in a van,
drive us cross-country on back roads
to the embassy compound.
So, all very James Bond-esque.
There is a green privacy screen
that has now been put up,
blocking the entrance to the cave.
This is perhaps another indication
this rescue could be incredibly close.
It was about 2:00 in the morning
that the Minister for the Interior said,
"Okay, assume the plans
going ahead tomorrow,
"um, and we'll give you the green light
in the morning. "
We had a debrief every night,
and on the night
before the first rescue day,
which incidentally
was our 28th wedding anniversary...
But I spoke to him that night,
and he outlined what they were gonna do.
It was a terrible conversation,
'cause he said, "Look,
"I don't think it'll...
"work, I think they'll probably drown
under anesthetic. "
I slept very badly that night.
Lying in bed, I thought,
"Who am I to take this chance
to get the kids out this way?"
But to walk away and leave them in there,
that's impossible, you can't do it.
The other thing that gave me
the courage to go through with this
was my dad.
My dad was a doctor,
he was a vascular surgeon.
The thing I've got from my father
more than anything
was the way to treat other people.
You know, he's a very generous man.
It was a good lesson to me
to try and treat people the way he did.
Reporters say
they've been ordered to get back.
There are rumors floating around the camp
that this rescue
could even be happening as soon as today.
The relatives
can only watch and wait anxiously.
For a final rescue, Thai medical teams
are running rescue drills...
I got the Thai medical people, overnight,
to prepare all the drugs
into prefilled syringes.
I had to basically teach
the rest of the divers
how to top up the child
with another injection.
The boys were gonna be sedated
in the final chamber,
but it would take more than two hours
to dive them out.
So, that sedative would wear off.
It would be necessary for us
to readminister that sedative.
So, we had a little anesthesia 101 class.
Basically I just said,
"Stick it in their leg,
"preferably on the outside of their thigh,
jab it through the wetsuit,
"and it doesn't matter
if you hit the bone.
"Nothing could possibly go wrong. "
Once again, lying through my teeth.
It's just to really give them
the courage to do it.
I have ten divers ready to go
in the next 30 minutes.
The ropes team will consist
of six Americans,
five Australians, five Chinese,
and six rope-specialist civilians.
Chamber Three, there will be
a Thai national coordination.
We cordoned off
our section of Chamber Three,
we brought in 15 body bags
in case things did go south.
I went straight to the end of the cave,
along with Jason and John and Harry.
We all know our position in the cave
and we went in roughly in that order.
I got the first boy ready
with the help of the SEALs.
We needed to put this hood on,
put his buoyancy jacket over...
put these bungee cords around
ready for the cylinder.
It was a very simple combination
of drugs that I came up with.
Xanax was the tablet, which has
a very strong anti-anxiety effect.
Dr. Bhak had given the first tablet
to the first kid.
So, I injected
the atropine into one leg first,
which has an anti-salivation side effect,
because they could drown
in their own saliva potentially.
And then, pretty much straight away
followed it up with the injection
of ketamine in the other leg,
which is the general anesthetic drug.
I'd hold up the syringe in front of them
and pat their leg to let them know
they're about to get an injection.
Once they were unconscious
it was basically trying
to put a mask on a rag doll.
I didn't feel comfortable in any way,
shape or form about what we were doing.
I mean, there were two things
that were really powerful,
and that is pushing
someone's face underwater
who's unconscious,
and then tying their hands
behind their back.
I mean, both those things feel very,
very wrong.
It felt like euthanasia to me.
On that first trip,
Jason yelled back to me and said,
"Oh, Harry, he's not breathing very much. "
And I told the guys,
"This is a one-way trip,
"once you start you cannot stop.
"You can't come back to me,
'cause there's nothing I can do.
"If you end up taking a body
out of the cave
"then that's what
you're taking out of the cave. "
In Chamber Eight, it felt like
we were waiting forever.
Suddenly the line twitched.
And Jason comes up with a child...
looking for a breath.
I can only say that there was just
this huge tension in the air.
The fact that he was still alive,
it was just
like a weight
had been lifted off my shoulders.
But that was only 300 meters,
they still had a kilometer-and-a-half
to get out of the cave.
Then he actually started twitchin',
movin' the fingers,
he looked like a zombie.
Our eyes were agog with this.
We gave 'em another injection there
and we transported him
over the dry chamber
to the next flooded section.
John took the second child.
I remember, John looked at me,
and he said, "What's his name?"
"I don't know, John. "
I was nervous.
I would go further than that,
I would say I was shitting myself.
As I swam him out, I just remember feeling
ownership and determination
that I'll make damned sure
that my child survived.
Chris took the third child.
You couldn't see your hand
in front of your face.
Occasionally, you'll get a glimpse
of something through the murk.
I remember trying to wriggle through holes
that I couldn't wriggle through.
Finding a bigger space
and then that repeating again and again.
After the first submerged section,
I carried on out with the lad that I had.
I surfaced in a deep water canal,
and there was no dry land.
But he was starting twitching again.
So, I got my vials of ketamine out.
My hands are shaking 'cause I've
never given an injection before.
I managed to get one of the vials,
you've got a separate needle,
took it out of its holder,
stabbed myself in the finger.
I'm lucky that's not connected
to the vial of ketamine
otherwise there'd be two bodies
floating on the surface.
Gave him that injection.
True enough, he had stopped twitching.
John came to the chamber,
and the child didn't appear
to be breathing right.
I had to change
the oxygen cylinders for the child.
And I couldn't get him
breathing again with the mask on.
Mask off.
We'd take the mask off,
and it did improve,
and then we put the mask back on
and it would get worse again.
And this went on
for a couple of times.
John was really worried.
I wanted to bolt for the exit
and it would have been finished.
Mask's all right.
It really felt like a sheer act of will,
because every fiber in my being
wanted to be out.
But I knew that I couldn't do that,
because I knew I'd end up with a corpse
at the end rather than a child.
By the time John left with the kid,
it looked like we did fix it.
When you got back
to the final flooded section
that was always the hardest sump
to go through.
You couldn't fit through
with a kid on either side.
We had to push him through first
and then you went through after him.
And then, as you approach Chamber Three,
you'd hear the humming of the pumps.
I surfaced with the boy.
A dozen hands there
are ready to take the child off you,
straight into another stretcher.
Thirty kilos.
Thirty kilos.
Kid number one's alive, breathing.
I think that was...
a huge morale boost.
One, two, three.
I surfaced
in Chamber Three with my child.
One, two, three, pull!
There are reports,
I must stress they are unconfirmed,
that two boys have now
emerged from the cave.
Just seconds ago,
we saw another ambulance going in,
perhaps a third will be extracted.
I arrived with my boy...
handed this precious cargo off.
I remember John saying to me,
"We've got three for three.
"Amazing, got three for three. "
Then he looked at me, he said,
"Come on, Stanton, don't... it up.
We've gotta get four for four. "
Rick took the last child
and he headed out of the cave.
I said to Dr. Bhak, "That's it.
"Let's do four tomorrow. "
As I swam out to Chamber Eight,
completely zero visibility,
my hand's running along the rope...
and suddenly I put my hand on something
that felt like a dead fish.
Craig and Rick were looking quite anxious,
and they were saying, "Quick, get out. "
Hurry, he's not breathing.
"We don't think this kid's breathing. "
I quickly got my gear off.
I thought, "Well, you know,
this is it, the first one's died. "
He looked pretty blue.
Very cold and lifeless.
And I actually couldn't convince myself
that he was breathing.
I was about to start mouth to mouth,
but just before I did
I gave his jaw a real hard push
to open his airway a bit, and he actually
started breathing with that.
But I still was really worried.
I still couldn't conceive
that this child would make it.
He was like that the whole way,
between two-and-a-half and three hours.
Just for my own sanity,
I would roll him over
so I could look into his face.
He looked asleep.
Except he happened to be underwater.
The moment you surface,
a fantastic sense
of elation and achievement.
There was a sense
of disbelief that this technique worked.
Four of the young soccer players
trapped in that cave in Thailand are out.
So, eight boys
and their coach remain trapped,
their lives still hanging in the balance.
This isn't over.
We'd just pulled off something we thought
was unbelievable and incredible.
Let's do it twice more.
The breaking news is out of Thailand...
A boy was seen transported on stretcher...
The fifth boy to be rescued...
One boy was taken from the cave
this morning...
That right there is an ambulance
we believe to be carrying that sixth boy.
This operation is being executed
extremely smoothly.
And that appears
to be the seventh right there.
The boys are coming out.
It's not the seventh child,
it is the eighth child.
Wild Boar eight out.
One more day on the weather.
The last several days,
they've had enormous luck.
These monsoon rains
seem to have held off.
But the forecast we kept getting
were it's gonna rain imminently.
And it did.
It lashed it down.
It never stopped.
These rains will flood
the caves very quickly.
We spent the night listening to the rain.
It was really, really hammering down,
wondering what was gonna happen
in the cave.
It's the only time
I've ever seen Rick and John look anxious,
which was actually starting
to unsettle Craig and me.
We got up in the morning
and the whole place
was just awash with water.
We worried that the dams
that diverted the water
would be drenched.
They couldn't hold off forever.
The water diversion will not last.
That's gonna destroy everything.
And then when we got
to our predive briefing in the morning,
and some of the guys were saying,
you know,
"Should we be going into the cave?
Should we be risking our lives?"
And then there were those of us
that were saying,
"What if we didn't go in today,
"and then tomorrow,
there was no more opportunity?"
And I felt like
I had to shut that down really quickly.
We just got up and walked
straight to the cave
and everybody else followed.
So, that was the decision made.
So, we realized we were going to attempt
five people on the last day.
Before heading into the cave,
the decision was made
that I would be the one to bring out...
... the first child that day.
As I was swimming,
my mind was on overdrive.
"Oh, my God, am I gonna be good enough?
"What about the parents
and the friends in the cave?"
It's a huge burden.
"If they die, it's gonna tear me apart.
Am I gonna start drinking?"
You know, "Go off the rails?"
I was given the coach.
As soon as I was holding him,
I switched to getting the job done.
Everything was going quite well.
I remember those last few minutes,
thinking to myself, "I'm nearly there.
What am I gonna do?"
'Cause I was pretty close
to my threshold.
"Am I gonna start crying
when I deliver him?"
John arrived after me,
then Rick arrived.
And Chris was due to come out next.
I kept waiting and waiting and waiting,
and he just didn't come.
I got all the way back
to the final underwater section,
the most awkward section.
Got the boy with me at this point,
you know, my precious cargo.
It's not a normal place
to have a line above you like that.
So, you'd have been on this side,
child in one hand,
line in the other above you.
Quite an awkward position.
And then something
on that last day changed,
and we all had problems in that section.
Just as I was going round
one of the corners,
I needed to transfer the rope
from one hand to another hand.
But it just pinged away from my hand.
This precious line
that ensures that we're going
to get out the water in one piece,
the thing you never lose,
the thing you never let go of,
I managed to let go of.
And I didn't know if the boy
might run out of gas.
It was just myself and Dr. Harris
in the water in Chamber Nine.
Everybody else had gone out by this point.
I thought the smallest child
had already gone,
but the last kid to walk down the hill
was this boy, Mark, who was 29 kilos.
Mark was by far the most small-faced
petite kid of them all.
We looked to each other and thought,
"That mask isn't gonna fit him.
"We can't leave him here today
and come back tomorrow,
"'cause I don't think
there's gonna be a chance tomorrow. "
We tried the mask.
We tried packing stuff around it,
like putting the hood under it.
Try and tighten it up
as tight as possible,
so we were literally
crushing the kid's nose.
But there was no way
it was gonna keep water out.
For some reason, we'd brought
this more leisure-type,
full-faced mask too.
Compared to the other ones,
it looked like a little pink toy.
And when we tried cranking the straps
down on this leisure mask,
the seal collapsed.
And then water entered.
So we backed it off, tried it again,
then it collapsed again.
It just sat on his face, and you knew
that if it took a sideways knock,
that would have been curtains.
Jason, I could see
was very unhappy about it.
The very last child and I was thinking,
"Poor Jason," you know? "The last kid
is gonna be the one to drown,"
"and Jason's gonna have
to deal with that. "
I had to go so slowly, so carefully.
We were waiting and waiting
and Chris didn't come,
so that was quite anxious.
Despite sweeping around
in the water to try and find this rope,
I couldn't find it.
I kept finding electrical cable.
That electrical cable
probably goes back to Chamber Three.
So, I started following it.
After, I guess, what was ten minutes,
I popped up into a chamber.
I was confused.
I was expecting to surface
in Chamber Three,
where the rescue workers were.
I surfaced in a chamber that was empty.
If I've managed to find
an unknown chamber,
completely off the main route,
nobody's gonna come and find us.
I surfaced in the last air chamber
with the child,
and immediately in front of me,
there was this apparition of Chris,
and there was a child at his feet.
And my immediate thought was,
"We've lost one of them. "
When I saw Jason,
I realized I'd gone backwards in the cave.
I realized I was back in Chamber Four.
Jason headed into the final section,
and then Harry appeared.
I said, "Look, mate,
you just stay here, gather your thoughts,
"I'll take the kid out in the last bit.
You come through when you're ready. "
When I hear the humming
of the pump, I knew
I'm nearly at Chamber Three.
Just before I handed the kid over,
I got a lump in my throat,
'cause I knew he was gonna be out alive.
Okay, three, two, one.
When we heard Harry
was bringing Chris's boy forward,
I was confident in Harry
and pleased for him as well,
that he was able to experience that.
There was these big guys
from the U.S. Air Force there,
grabbing the kid off you.
Whisking him into a stretcher
and off up the hill.
And then he's just gone.
Suddenly, the mood was just amazing.
Passing around a bottle of Jack Daniels...
that wasn't really allowed.
Bloody done this, I can't believe it.
I knew the Thai Navy guys
and Dr. Bhak still had to come out
and we were still worried about them.
I mean, they still had a challenging dive.
And suddenly there's this cry
of something's going wrong.
One of the main pumps
in Chamber Three burst
and just started spewing water everywhere.
Oh, my God, it's rising really fast.
And we've got no regulators,
we need to get out of here.
We were waiting
on just two more SEALs
and as that water started to crash,
- those SEALs came out.
Then the whole chamber flooded.
We just barely got out
by holding our breath.
We were saying that this must be
what the lady of the cave said,
"Now, you guys got what you wanted,
and now it's time to go. "
Thank you!
And then the SEALs were coming out
right at the end.
Even though we were the sort of spearhead
to this operation,
there were 100s and 100s of people
in that cave.
It seems
that the lady opposite me
was Titan's mother...
the youngest boy
that I'd brought out on that last day.
Titan's mom said,
"On behalf of all the parents,
"we wanna thank you
for what you've done.
"It's like our children had died
and been given another life. And...
"you know, can't thank you enough. "
That's what brought home
what we'd done.
They had a family life and parents.
Don't forget it.
Thailand is your second home.
This amazing sense of relief
and euphoria and elation.
I'd had my usual text message, saying...
"I'm out, I'll ring you
when I get back to the hotel. "
So, he finally rang.
And I'm just babbling, I'm just, you know,
completely pumped full of adrenalin
at this point.
And I must have gone on
for ten minutes or something, at least,
and finally, I sort of draw a breath
and then suddenly, she's burst into tears.
And yeah, she tells my dad's just died,
literally a couple of hours ago.
So, I didn't know what to feel. You know,
it was this huge swing of emotions,
from being up here, to suddenly,
What... "How has this possibly
happened today, you know, of all days?"
Everyone was very sympathetic
and they all assumed
that I'd wanna go straight home,
which I thought about.
But then I thought,
"That's actually not gonna help me. "
And even by the end of that first day,
I was already sort
of feeling better about it all,
because Dad had a fantastic life,
and you know, he just died, like that.
And I thought, "Well,
you couldn't ask for a better exit. "
And so I sort of started
to see the positive side of it
and started to think,
"Well, this is actually another cause
"for celebration. "
You know, I was celebrating the kids,
but also my dad.
Thank you so much.
Miracle piled upon miracle.
We'll see them. Sometime in the future.
Well, I think I hold a sort of great pride
in what...
what we did.
You could say justification
for the dedication I put forward
into a ridiculous minority sport
that no one ever took seriously.
Yes, it's definitely changed my life
and made me into
maybe a more confident person.
Last to be chosen for the cricket team,
first to be chosen for the cave rescue.
I did used to worry,
"Was I a bit too cold?
"Was I a bit too unemotional?"
I found a use and a purpose
to that level of detachment.
You can use it to do good things.
The Wild Boars.
He said, "You need to marry Amp. "
They said it can't be done
That this one's a challenge
You won't overcome
I know your dreams are bold
Keep going, you'll find that you're not
On your own
So don't give up
And don't give in
You've gotta believe, believe, believe
That anything is possible
You've gotta believe, believe, believe
That anything is possible
You gotta keep on and see it through
No matter how hard that is to do
You've gotta believe to find the fire
That's inside you
You've gotta believe
So here we are
With billions of prayers
out there floating like stars...
I know it seems hard
Just hold on to hope 'cause you've made it
This far
Soon you'll be out of the dark
So don't give up
And don't give in
You've gotta believe, believe, believe
That anything is possible
You've gotta believe, believe, believe
That anything is possible
You gotta keep on and see it through
No matter how hard that is to do
You've gotta believe to find the fire
That's inside you
You've gotta believe
You gotta keep on and see it through
No matter how hard that is to do
You've gotta believe to find the fire
That's inside you
You've gotta believe