A member of the team that saved 12 boys from a flooded cave in Thailand has died from an infection he picked up during the daring rescue.
Petty Officer 1st Class Beirut Pakbara, a Thai Navy Seal, contracted a blood infection as he navigated the Tham Luang cave complex last year.
He was under medical supervision and had been in and out of hospital since the rescue last summer, his mother said.
However his condition worsened and he passed away in hospital yesterday.
He was buried the same day in his home province of Satun, local media reported.
Beirut’s death is the second linked to the high-profile operation that saw the boys and their football coach rescued after spending two weeks in the caves.
Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan died while resupplying oxygen tanks on July 6 2018 and a statue of him was later erected near the cave’s entrance.
The Wild Boars youth football team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach had been exploring the cave complex after training.
But a downpour flooded the tunnels and trapped them deep underground.
They spent nine nights lost in the cave before they were spotted by an expert diver.
A team then went in and guided each other boys out on special stretchers.
The operation required placing oxygen canisters along the path where the divers navigated dark, tight and twisting passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.
The boys were eventually freed after 17 days underground and the rescue effort involved over 90 divers and attracted worldwide attention.
The cave complex, in the northern Chiang Rai province, was only re-opened to tourists last month.