What happened to the Thai cave rescue boys and where are they now?

26 February 2024, 12:55 | Updated: 26 February 2024, 12:56

The boys were trapped in the cave for several weeks
The boys were trapped in the cave for several weeks. Picture: Getty/social media
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

In 2018, a group of 12 Thai footballers and their coach were left trapped in the Tham Luang cave in Thailand. What transpired gripped the world.

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The Wild Boars football team had gone exploring in Chiang Rai with their coach, with the aim of reaching the Tham Luang cave.

The team went as far as 8km into the cave, and had planned to spend around an hour inside, without knowing how much rain was about to come.

They were caught off-guard by a flash flood and were forced to move deeper into the cave.

The boys and their coach ended up on a small rock around 4km from the entrance, surrounded by darkness and with no food.

They were forced to dig deeper and deeper as rescue teams were mobilised.

Multiple rescue attempts failed, before a group of specialist divers managed to reach the football team two weeks later.

It took the divers five hours to make the one-way journey to the group. When they got there, they sedated the boys and carried them out of the cave.

All 12 boys and their coach survived the terrifying ordeal, much to the amazement of the world.

So what are the boys up to now?

The Wild Boars football team
The Wild Boars football team. Picture: Getty

One of the boys stuck in the cave was Adul Sam-On, who spoke five languages and so could communicate with all the divers.

He told the New York Times two years ago that he had wanted to be a doctor, but is now considering humanitarian aid work after he surviving the terrifying experience.`

"We have to keep adjusting to the environment where you are in order to survive. You have to keep adapting your life," he said.

While the team went their separate ways after surviving, Sam-On revealed they do try and stay in touch.

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Meanwhile, Sam-On's teammate, Phonchai Khamluang, went on to play professional football with Chiangrai Lanna, a Thai team in the nation's third division. He now plays for Mae Fah Luang University.

He was not the only one who kept the desire to stick with football, as Chanin Wibunrungrueang went on to play in the academy run by Ekkapol Chantawong, the coach who was trapped with the boys. He has also invited several other boys into the academy.

The boys went 4km into the cave
The boys went 4km into the cave. Picture: Getty

Tragically, the team's captain, Duangphet Promthep, also known as Dom, died by suicide in February last year.

On February 14, 2023, Dom, who was 13 when he was trapped in the cave, was found unconscious in his room at the Brooke House College Football Academy in Leicestershire.

Duangphet Promthep died by suicide in February last year.
Duangphet Promthep died by suicide in February last year. Picture: social media

He was not known to mental health practitioners in the area, according to the inquest into his death.

Tributes poured in for the footballer, including from his former teammate, Prachak Sutham, who said: "The 13 of us have been through a lot of things together, sadness, happiness, risk of death.

"You told me to wait and see you play for the national team. I always believed you would do it."

Those feeling distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK