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Thailand and the world celebrate rescue of trapped football team

Thais honk horns, netizens flood social media with messages of joy

Honking car horns and live videos - this is how some Thai people in the northern city of Chiang Rai and beyond celebrated yesterday after all 12 boys and their football coach had been safely rescued from a cave complex.

The dramatic rescue marks the end of a more than two-week ordeal that began when the "Wild Boars" team and their coach became trapped inside the flooded Tham Luang cave on June 23.

Two British divers found the 13 last week. The search and rescue operation has largely been driven by Thailand's elite navy Seal unit.

"This is an important event in my life. It is something I will remember," said a visibly emotional Mr Rachapol Ngamgrabuan, an official at Chiang Rai's provincial press office.

"There were times when I cried," he added.

"Happy. Very happy to see all Thai people love each other."

On Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he would host a celebration for all of those involved in the multinational rescue effort.

"We will host a meal for all sides," said General Prayuth.

Audiences around the world cheered the successful rescue.

A Google search yesterday for the words "Thai cave rescue" revealed 359,000,000 results, with interest peaking since last week when the boys were found and the rescue mission began.

Mr Cornell Brooks, former chief executive of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People group in the US, said: "Miracles may happen every day but this is one for the ages."

With international journalists stationed outside the cave, television stations have carried updates and the story has ranked highly in terms of the most read or viewed items on sites such as Britain's BBC and NBC News.

HASHTAG

On social media, live Facebook videos from the reporters and volunteers on the ground have been popular.

On Twitter and Instagram, well-wishers sent messages of support, advice and sketches of the boys in the cave using hashtags such as #Thaicaverescue #boarteam #Thainavyseals #PrayForThaiBoys and #Bringtheboarteambackhome.

A Thai navy Seal Facebook post confirming all 13 had been rescued had more than 200,000 likes and around 56,000 shares in an hour, sparking comments such as: "You are all heroes. Thank you on behalf of a grateful world" and "On behalf of all mothers, I thank you".

On Twitter, there were 160,000 tweets containing "All 12". Reaction to the news dominated social media in the US with the term "All 12" the top trending topic on Twitter.

It even eclipsed reaction to the news of US President Donald Trump's latest Supreme Court nominee, which was the eighth-ranked topic. - REUTERS

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