Over the past few weeks, the world’s media has closely followed the daring rescue of the junior football team, the Wild Boars, from a flooded cave in Thailand. In the unlikely event you’re unaware of the dramatic unfolding of events, here’s a brief recap: on the 23rd June twelve teenage football players and their 25-year-old coach found themselves trapped five kilometres into a cave complex in the Tham Luang region in northern Thailand after heavy rain flooded their way back out. The team had to wait for nine days, surviving solely on water from stalactites, before the rescue team was able to reach them. There would be another nine days before the last victim was freed on the 10th July.
For many of us, the collaborative efforts from around the globe served as a reminder of humanity at its finest. Over the course of two weeks, hundreds of volunteers and military personnel specialists arrived in Tham Luang, from across the globe, to assist in the rescue efforts. The interest was reflected online where discussions around the operation generated 2 million mentions during the peak of the coverage, mostly on Twitter. Netizens actively kept track of the situation using social media and many shared their compassion by sending their well wishes to the brave rescue team. As a testament to the global coverage of the event, key content contributors and hashtags saw strong influences from the US and the UK in addition to Thailand.
News sources and KOLs in the US were vocal about the rescue mission. While English World Cup football player Kyle Walker drove visibility among the UK crowd when he expressed his wish to send shirts to the young football players, ABC News international correspondent James Longman’s on-site tweets generated tens of thousands of retweets.
All eyes were on Thailand, the rescue and the name of the cave (in both English & Thai).
Social media users showed diversity in online conversations as the passionately followed the rescue progress.
Here’s a look at some of the tweets that captured the attention,
Arts and sketches by creative commentators depicting the Wild Boar rescue were popular on social media.
From our heart… thank you.
/ฟรอม์ อ๊าวฺ ฮ๊าร์ทฺ… แธฺ๊งค์ คู้ว์/
จากใจเลยนะ ขอบคุณค่ะ#hooyah #หมูป่าอะคาเดมี#SealTeam #ThaiNavySEAL#Thailand #Thailandcave #ThaiCaveResue #ThailandCaveRescue #ThamLuangCave #JAcademyEnglish pic.twitter.com/hjODcleVst
— J Academy (Ajarn Ju) (@JAcademyEnglish) July 10, 2018
Welcome home 12 boys and coach!!!!#ถ้ำหลวง #ThailandCaveRescue #welcomebackhome #hooyah
Thank you everybody 🙇👏👏❤ pic.twitter.com/Vv5xyATeKe
— Zanacho ⚽ Bayern (@ZandraFCB) July 10, 2018
A true hero
Saman Guana, a former Thai Navy SEAL diver, passed away when his air ran out as he was refilling oxygen tanks for the football team. Social media users paid tribute to his sacrifice and hailed him as one of the heroes that made the rescue possible.
This is Saman Guana, the former Thai navy seal who has died in the cave trying to free the 12 boys and their soccer coach.
A hero to this country and to everyone hoping for their safety pic.twitter.com/SURTQuimwl
— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) July 6, 2018
I hope everyone takes a moment today to remember Saman Gunan, the Thai Navy Seal that died making sure the kids stuck in the cave had enough oxygen so that today's rescue would even be possible. #ThaiCaveRescue pic.twitter.com/LkhGmBXOAl
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) July 8, 2018
Pray for one of our heros, Now They’re safe. Don’t be worry #ถ้ำหลวง #พาทีมหมูป่ากลับบ้าน #ThailandCaveRescue pic.twitter.com/bdg9jZl2RB
— Hadoii Stitch Aloha (@hadoii) July 10, 2018
The high-tech solution
Elon Musk visited the cave to offer his suggestion of using ‘kid-sized’ submarines to bring the boys to safety. His support gained positive traction around the business magnate until he got disgruntled with the rescue team leader’s sceptical feedback on his mini-sub idea and shared his feelings with the world.
Some good feedback from cave experts in Thailand. Iterating with them on an escape pod design that might be safe enough to try. Also building an inflatable tube with airlocks. Less likely to work, given tricky contours, but great if it does.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2018
Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/EHNh8ydaTT
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
The questionable presidential response
The US President and the First Lady sent encouraging tweets ahead of the precarious rescue, but Trump faced a backlash as critics made comparisons to his zero tolerance immigration policy.
The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2018
How did you follow the rescue of the Wild Boar team? Were there any tweets or social media posts that moved you more than others? Please share your views with us on our social media channels.
Main image: Illustration obtained by Reuters July 10, 2018.
Based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Loc has 10 years’ experience in market research, both traditional and social data-driven, across a range of verticals, including entertainment, healthcare, beauty and electronics.