A navy seal who assisted in the daring rescue of 12 young boys from a flooded cave network in Thailand has died from a blood infection contracted during the operation.
Hailing Beiret Bureerak for his heroic role in the weeks-long rescue effort that captured global attention, the Royal Thai Navy confirmed on Friday that he had died after battling infection for 17 months.
The petty officer had reportedly been receiving treatment under close medical supervision since the mission, but his condition had worsened.
On 23 June 2018, Wild Boars Academy’s football coach Ekapol Chanthawong and 12 boys went to explore the Tham Luang cave networks in Chiang Rai, when flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains left them trapped underground.
They survived for nine days on water dripping from rocks before being discovered by two British divers. The rescue effort that ensued drew volunteers from across the globe and international media attention.
In a race to stop the group being trapped for months by further monsoon rains, all 12 boys and their coach were finally evacuated in a tense 60-hour rescue operation which ended on 10 July.
One former navy seal, Saman Kunan, lost his life while working as a volunteer to place oxygen tanks along a potential escape route.
Kunan died after losing consciousness from a lack of oxygen, the supply of which began to run dangerously low as the number of volunteers aiding in the cave network increased.
In a statement on Friday, the navy offered condolences to Bureerak’s family, who will receive 464,980 baht (£11,760) in compensation.
Additional reporting by Reuters