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The Thai cave rescue almost ended in disaster when water pumps stopped working with 100 rescue workers still inside

INSIDER logoINSIDER 11/7/2018 ama@businessinsider.com (Alexandra Ma)

a man riding on top of a mountain: thai cave cleanup © Provided by Business Insider Inc thai cave cleanup Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

  • The main pump draining water from the Tham Luang cave complex stopped working shortly after the last member of the soccer team was saved.
  • Some 100 rescue workers were still in the flooded cave when it happened, packing up equipment from a triumphant rescue.
  • Three people said they heard screams and a flurry of headlights as rescuers scrambled to safety away from the rising water.

The three-day operation to save the Thai soccer team from a flooded cave complex almost ended in disaster, according to the rescue workers inside.

The main water pump preventing the caves from filling up still further failed in the final hours of the evacuation, almost trapping about 100 remaining rescue divers inside it as water levels rose.

It happened hours after the last boy of the soccer team was evacuated, but while professionals were still there to remove the equipment used in the rescue.

Some 100 divers and rescue workers were still in the caves when the main water stopped working, with some more than a mile deep inside the cave, The Guardian reported.

thai cave rescue remaining workers © Provided by Business Insider Inc thai cave rescue remaining workers Soe Zeya Tun

Three unidentified divers from Australia, who had been stationed at a base about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) from the mouth of the cave, said they heard screaming and saw multiple workers wearing head torches frantically try to reach dry ground once the pump gave out.

One of the divers said:

"The screams started coming because the main pumps failed and the water started rising.

"All these headlights start coming over the hill and the water was coming ... It was noticeably rising."

The base, named "Chamber 3," was the last point from the cave entrance where water was drained.

a close up of a map: thailand cave network graphic © Provided by Business Insider Inc thailand cave network graphic Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

According to The Guardian, the remaining workers in the cave rushed to the exit and were all out less than an hour later.

Three Thai Navy SEALs and Australian doctor Richard Harris were reportedly the last out of the caves.

Tuesday marked the end of a desperate three-day mission to save the 12 boys and their soccer coach from the Tham Luang cave network, where they had been trapped for more than two weeks.

thailand cave water pump © Provided by Business Insider Inc thailand cave water pump Linh Pham/Getty

The rescue missions began on Sunday after officials judged that time was short because of approaching monsoon rains and depleting oxygen levels inside the cave.

Every member of the team were extracted safely and they are all recovering in hospital.

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SEE ALSO: The father of a doctor who helped rescue the Thai soccer team died while his son saved 13 lives

READ MORE: The boys rescued from the cave in Thailand could have been exposed to dangerous infections from bats, fungus, or water

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