Vancouver diver spent nine days in Thailand cave as part of soccer team rescue

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Vancouver technical diver Erik Brown, pictured on the left, was part of the team of international divers that helped rescue a soccer team and their coach trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system.
Photograph via Facebook

A Vancouver technical dive instructor was one of the experts who helped rescue a soccer team and coach trapped in a flooded Thailand cave.

By July 10, all 12 boys and their coach from the Wild Boars soccer team had been freed from the Tham Laung Nang Non Cave after an 18-day ordeal that captured the world’s attention.

Erik Brown, who grew up in Langley, was one of 13 specialist divers committed to getting the boys out of the cave safely. He spent nine days and 63 hours in the cave.

Divers had to navigate dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air to get to the team.

Brown posted about the successful rescue on his Facebook page on Tuesday night.

“9 days. 7 missions and 63 hours inside Tham Laung Cave. Success.”

Friends and followers of Brown congratulated him on his efforts, labelling him and fellow divers “heroes.”

“Official heroes. You guys did an amazing job, the world will never forget it,” Sofia Sabbione wrote on Facebook.

More than 500 people took the time to comment on his post.

“Congratulations for making abjure difference to so many peoples lives. Not to mention highlighting what technical divers can achieve when coming together,” wrote Bjorn Nielson.

“Fantastic effort! Deep respect for your commitment to the mission and the boys. We all stand in awe,” said Maria Bollerup.

It took a global effort to rescue the boys from the cave, which stretches under a mountainside in the Chiang Mai province for up to six miles. The expert divers, from across the world, worked with Thai navy Seals to complete the operation – which had been labelled “mission impossible.”

It has been reported the schoolboys visited the cave, notorious for its challenging landscape, on June 23 as part of a rite of passage. Things went horribly wrong.

Heavy rain flooded the tunnels and blocked their exit, preventing rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days. British divers eventually located them on July 2 and then the gruelling operation to rescue them commenced.

Divers had to guide the boys through the tunnels for four kilometres to get them to safety.

With files from the Associated Press

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