Thai cave rescue: Boys were heavily drugged and handcuffed, new book claims

The 12 Thai boys who were rescued from a cave in 2018 were drugged and handcuffed during the rescue operation, a new book claims.

ABC Australia Southeast Asia Correspondent Liam Cochrane was on the ground during the operation, and has published The Cave, a book detailing the difficult plan and execution of the cave rescue.

In June of 2018, 12 young football players from a small Thai village and their coach ventured into a local cave, unaware that a monsoonal downpour would soon flood their route out and trap them inside.

People from across the world worked for days to plan a rescue, and it was revealed that the boys would be aided by divers to swim through the tunnel system with flippers, wetsuits and oxygen gear.

The Cave now claims that this information was false and the boys were instead drugged with ketamine and handcuffed before being tethered to divers and brought out.

Mr Cochrane writes "parents were told the boys were being taught how to dive and the media reported that each of them would be tethered to an air hose and then swim out with one rescue diver in front and another behind."

Rescue teams remove equipment from the site after the rescue.
Rescue teams remove equipment from the site after the rescue. Photo credit: Reuters.

He said reports at the time said the boys had been mildly sedated to stop them from panicking, but they were much more heavily drugged than many were led to believe.

"The only hope was to sedate them, put oxygen-fed masks with silicone seals over their faces and let the expert cave divers carry them out," the book says.

Mr Cochrane notes that the boy's hands were tied behind their backs to prevent any chance that they might wake and try to rip off the face mask in a panic, "endangering both his life and that of his rescuer".

All 12 boys and the coach were successfully rescued from the cave on the 11th of July.


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