What the public, and the parents of the trapped boys, were never told about the Thai cave rescue.

When authorities discovered 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a flooded Thai cave last June, rescuers had the incredibly difficult task of getting them all out alive.

We know how this ended, of course: with, largely, happiness. Each member of the Wild Boars soccer team was brought to safety, though sadly one rescuer died during the exploration process.

And with such a successful outcome, few asked questions about the “sedation” the boys were under for the journey.

But a new book has revealed that what we – and the boys’ parents – were told about how the boys were rescued isn’t exactly the whole truth.

According to Liam Cochrane, ABC reporter and author of The Cave, the boys weren’t just mildly sedated to calm their nerves before the long, arduous trip through narrow underwater caves – they were made unconscious, and handcuffed.


These measures too, were for their own safety, Cochrane says in an extract published in the Daily Mail.

The boys were injected with ketamine, an anaesthesia medication, and with cable ties, had their hands tied behind their backs to stop them from ripping their oxygen masks off in a panic if they awoke.

The book states that the parents of the boys were told that they’d be taught to dive to help them feel better about the situation. We were told each boy would be swimming through the cave, with one rescuer in front of him and one behind.

“This was untrue,” Cochrane writes.

Rescuers knew that it would be far too difficult to teach boys aged between 11 and 16 to dive in such murky, enclosed waters.

“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 states.

And that’s exactly what they did, according to Cochrane. Each boy, once unconscious, was strapped to a rescuer with a harness similar to a tandem skydive, as they made their way through the cave system.

Once rescued after more than two weeks spent in the cave, the boys and their coach were taken to hospital.

‘The Cave’ by Liam Cochrane, published by ABC Books, is available from most booksellers for $29.99.

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