Canberra, July 24 (IANS) The Australian government on Tuesday honoured divers who were involved in the rescue of a Thai boys’ soccer team from a flooded cave earlier this month.
Governor General Peter Cosgrove presented cave divers Craig Challen and Dr Richard Harris, as well as seven other Australians, with the Order of Australia and the Star of Courage for their roles in saving 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from the cave in northern Thailand, Efe news reported.
The award ceremony was held at Government House in Canberra and was attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand, among other senior figures including military and police officials.
“It was a great honour to meet our @AusFedPolice heroes involved in the rescue in Chiang Rai at the award ceremony today at Government House @TurnbullMalcolm @AngusTaylorMP”, Dutton tweeted.
Cosgrove wrote on his Facebook page that the reception was the first time the rescuers had been together since they returned to Australia from Thailand on July 13, just a few days after the Thai soccer team was taken out of the cave in the complex rescue operation.
Following their removal from the cave, the boys who ranged in age from 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach, spent several days in a hospital in Chiang Rai where they received medical and psychological support.
Most of the boys were due to be ordained as Buddhist monks.
The team, known as the Wild Boars, originally entered Tham Luang cave on June 23 after a soccer training session but became trapped by a sudden storm surge that partially flooded the vast cave system.
A massive search operation was undertaken involving large numbers of Thai police officers and soldiers and several international diving experts. A pair of British divers finally found the boys on July 2 on a rock embankment.
Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy Seal diver died during the operation after he delivered oxygen tanks to the boys.