Rescuers working to free the 12 young soccer players and their coach from a partially flooded Thai cave were not expecting everyone to make it…
Rescuers working to free the 12 young soccer players and their coach from a partially flooded Thai cave were not expecting everyone to make it out alive, they said Wednesday.
“We looked at this and thought this has a very low probability of success,” US Air Force Maj. Charles Hodges, who was involved in the mission, told “Today.” “I felt like I was being optimistic when I told the governor of Chiang Rai when he asked, that in my mind, the potential chance of success was anywhere from 60 to 70 percent.”
“We were fully expecting casualties,” he added.
Risks such as the boys’ deteriorating physical condition and the possibility of life-saving equipment breaking down mid-mission made the rescue effort particularly dangerous, Hodges said.
There also wasn’t any precedent for the rescuers to turn to for guidance, he said.
Other roadblocks included the Tham Luang’s narrow, tight passageway, which was filled with muddy, frigid water with no visibility, said Master Sgt. Derek Anderson, who was part of the team of rescuers diving down to pull out the boys.
“I quickly realized it was going to be a more complex mission that we initially had thought,” the 32-year-old Syracuse native said.
Against the odds, the team — ranging in age from 11 to 16 — and their 25-year-old coach were rescued after being stranded in the underground cave network for over two weeks.
Dozens of rescuers from various countries took part in the effort to free the boys, including 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy SEALs who went in to accompany the team from where they were sheltering to the cave’s entrance.
“The multinational effort, though, knocked it out of the park. Everybody came together on this,” said Hodges. “If there wasn’t teamwork coming from every single direction, then this would not have been a success.”
Anderson added: “It took every bit of effort from every part of the world.”

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