A former Navy SEAL and combat swimmer says the dangerous and harrowing rescue of a young football team trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand is one of the top ten rescue missions of all time.
For more than two weeks, 12 boys – ranging in age from 11 to 16 years old, and their 25 year old coach were stuck deep inside a cave network in the province of Chiang Rai after exploring it following a practice game.
Speaking to RadioLIVE Drive, Jake Zweig said that while stress and fear is trained out of the elite diving squad, dealing with children who cannot swim – let alone in dark, tight spaces – was quite exceptional.
“I have been comparing it to climbing Mount Everest, but I guy asked me today – and I think it’s a really good analogy – on a scale of 1 to 10, this was 100. There’s no other way to cut it.
It’s amazing. The fact that they got everybody out alive.
Based on the rescue plan, and the death of a Thai Navy SEAL assisting in the recovery mission, Mr Zweig says it was “incredible” that everyone made it our alive.
“For them to have no more casualties or hiccups – just an absolute incredible feat by special operations commands around the world. It was truly a world coalition that pulled together,” he told RadioLIVE.
Meanwhile, one of the divers involved in the rescue mission, Belgian man Ben Reymenants told RadioLIVE it was "amazing" they found the boys alive in the first place.
"We were expecting some casualties. Even their mental health is good – they were talking. But they’re very, very skinny. They’ve lost a lot of their body mass.
“This is one my top five most difficult dives,” he told RadioLIVE.
Listen to the full interview with Jake Zweig above.