CANBERRA, Australia – Nine Australians who rescued twelve boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand were awarded medal prizes on Tuesday for putting their lives at risk during the treachery
Anesthesiologist Richard Harris and his dive partner Craig Challen, a retired veterinarian, were awarded the Star of Courage, the second highest civilian honorary award in the Australian Honor System after the Cross of Courage, said Governor-General Peter Cosgrave in
Six police officers and one naval diver received the lower bravery medal
Harris and Challen, both 53-year-old seasoned cave divers, had demonstrated conspicuous bravery in the operation that resulted in all 13 members of a football team being rescued, their quotes said.
The team entered the cave on June 23, but floods quickly blocked the exit and they had to retreat deeper into the cave. Heavy rains raised the water level and prevented the first searches before two British divers found the group on a dry, safe and hungry patch on July 2nd.
Harris and Challen arrived in the cave on July 6 and reached the team the next day.
"Dr. Harris performed initial medical examinations and was able to provide the waiting authorities with information about the safest extraction methods," the quotes said.
"The rescue mission was dangerous, with poor or no visibility, debris and narrow passageways, variable air quality, and complicated by further rains that were predicted," they added.
Harris sedated the boys and coach before being released by divers on three days, July 10th.
Challen helped remove the team's masks and wetsuits The boys and trainers were carried through dry areas, then prepared them for their next dive through flooded parts of the cave.
The other seven Australian divers displayed considerable bravery throughout the cave system and helped to bring the team to the entrance their quotes said.
"The threat of sudden flooding, the movement of debris and the deterioration of air quality continued to pose a potent threat. Deadly dangers are to be expected for all employees of the cave system," it says in their quotes.
The dangers were haunted by a single death during the long rescue operation, former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Gunan, who died while refilling supplies in the cave. 19659017] The 12 boys and coaches recovered for a week in a hospital.
Challen told a reporter in his hometown of Perth that he did not expect the rescue to be so successful.
"It was absolutely life and death, we did not expect 13 people to get away alive," Challen told News Corp.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had supported the rapid recognition of official recognition for the bravery of the Australians.
"It's one of the most heroic and inspirational episodes of our time," Turnbull said the day after the rescue.
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