World

Thai cave rescue: Father dies after hero doctor's successful mission

SYDNEY The father of a cave-diving Australian doctor died yesterday after his son played a key role in the rescue of the Thai boys.

Anaesthetist Richard Harris did the final medical checks of the 12 trapped boys and their coach.

"Early this morning Harry's father passed away here in Adelaide... after they had all come out of the cave," said Dr Andrew Pearce, of rescue service MedStar in the Australian city, where Dr Harris, also known as Harry, is a specialist.

"It was a complete, unexpected shock."

Mr Pearce gave no cause of death or the age of Dr Harris' father, Jim.

The Wild Boars, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were trapped on June 23 while exploring the Tham Luang cave complex in the province of Chiang Rai. British divers found them last week.

UNIQUE SKILL SET

Harris played a pivotal role in the rescue effort, positioned on the muddy bank in the cave with the boys and their coach, assessing their fitness for the perilous journey back to the outside.

"His unique skill set as a specialist doctor and his extensive experience as a cave diver were quintessential to the success of this operation," Major Alex Rubin of the Australian Defence Force told reporters.

Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull, in a video he released of a conversation with Dr Harris, offered his condolences and congratulations.

"No worries," Dr Harris is heard replying. "The big heroes in this are the children and the four Thai navy Seals who were looking after them. They are the toughest blokes and kids I have ever had the privilege to meet."

In a condolence message to Dr Harris on its Facebook page, the Thai navy unit said, "We wish you the best for this tough time. We can never thank you enough for what you've done for the kids, their families and Thailand." - REUTERS

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