According to Wikipedia:

In June and July 2018, a widely publicised cave rescue successfully extricated members of a junior football team trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.

An article by news.com.au contains the following passage (emphasis is mine to stress most relevant parts):

But ABC Australia Southeast Asia correspondent Liam Cochrane says in his new book, The Cave, the boys were in fact drugged with ketamine and handcuffed on their journey out of the cave.

It was revealed during the rescue that the boys were mildly sedated to stop them panicking during the rescue, but the truth is more complex.

The boys received far stronger drugs, and they were handcuffed behind their backs to stop them ripping off their face mask should they wake up.

“To calm nerves, the parents were told the boys were being taught how to dive and the media reported that each of them would be tethered to an air hose and then swim out with one rescue diver in front and another behind,” Cochrane writes in his book.

“This was untrue.

“Those who’d been inside the flooded tunnels knew there was no way a child who had never dived before could make it through the muddy and treacherous obstacle course.

“The only hope was to sedate them, put oxygen-fed masks with silicone seals over their faces and let the expert cave divers carry them out.

“But it was crucial that the masks fitted tightly, otherwise they might drown.”

Question: were these boys unconscious during the diving part of the rescue operation?

1 Answer 1


The documentary Tham Luang Cave Rescue: Against the Elements gives details on the rescue. Here is the relevant summary, with links to the relevant parts:

Vern Unsworth, a caver who was brought in to help with the rescue, said that the boys were sedated while they were being rescued. Anan Surawan, who lead the rescue operation, mentioned this plan would be kept a secret. Apparently, the boys were "semiconsious" and also were transported on stretchers through the non-diving parts of the rescue.

Although the video doesn't mention handcuffs, it doesn't seem very surprising given that the boys were sedated. After all, limbs are floppy and you don't want them getting stuck in the mud.

  • 5
    Note that "handcuffs" could mean the shiny things that cops carry, or they could mean "patient restraints" such as are commonly used to secure a patient to a stretcher. Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 14:05
  • 1
    @DanielRHicks handcuffs, to me, sounds more dramatic than restraints. In practice, I think the words can be used interchangeably though.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 11:43

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