BANGKOK - A Thai navy SEAL who was part of the dramatic rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave has died of a blood infection contracted during the risky operation, the Royal Thai Navy said.
Petty Officer 1st Class Bayroot Pakbara was receiving treatment but his condition worsened after the infection spread into his blood, according to an announcement on the Thai navy SEAL’s Facebook page.
He is the second navy diver who lost his life in the high-profile operation that saw the boys and the coach extracted from deep inside the northern cave complex, where they were trapped for two weeks in June-July last year.
Lt. Cmdr. Saman Gunan died while resupplying oxygen tanks on July 6, 2018.
According to the Bangkok Post daily, Pakbara was buried Friday at the Talosai mosque in southern Satun province. Local media quoted his mother as saying her son had been in and out of the hospital since the cave rescue.
The boys and their coach entered the Tham Luang cave complex after soccer practice and were quickly trapped inside by rising floodwater. Despite a massive search, the boys spent nine nights lost in the cave before they were spotted by an expert diver. It would take another eight days before they were all safe.
A team of expert divers guided each of the boys out of the cave on special stretchers. The operation required placing oxygen canisters along the path where the divers maneuvered dark, tight and twisting passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.