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Hero from Thailand cave rescue dies from infection

By Clyde Hughes
Members of the Royal Thai Navy along with volunteers from England, the United States, Australia, and China, are pictured as they prepare to rescue members of a local youth soccer team in 2018. One of the heroes from that operation died Friday from an infection. Photo by Royal Thai Navy/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/9a31832bb029028fedf2a34772396af5/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Members of the Royal Thai Navy along with volunteers from England, the United States, Australia, and China, are pictured as they prepare to rescue members of a local youth soccer team in 2018. One of the heroes from that operation died Friday from an infection. Photo by Royal Thai Navy/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- A Royal Thai Navy officer involved with the rescue of a youth soccer team in a Thailand cave last year died Friday of a rare blood infection he contracted during the effort.

PO First Class Beiret Bureerak was among the divers that took part in the rescue operation to save the trapped soccer team and their coach after rain flooded their entrance and survived on water dropping on rocks for nine days. The operation attracted volunteers and media attention around the world.

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Ekapol Chanthawong and 12 boys of his Wild Boars Academy soccer team were rescued from the Tham Luang cave networks in Chang Rai in June 2018.

Pakbara died after being under consistent medical care after contracting the infection but only recently became worse. He was buried Friday at the Talosai mosque in Satun's Langu district.

It was the second death of a Royal Thai Navy officer connection with the rescue. Thai Navy Seal Saman Kunan died while working as a volunteer placing oxygen tanks along a potential escape route during the operation.

Royal Thai Navy Deputy Chief-of-Staff Prachachart Sirisawat said Pakbara will be promoted to lieutenant and receive a royal decoration for his service.

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