As news spread all 12 young football players and their coach had made it safely out of the flooded cave in northern Thailand, the Hawke's Bay Thai community were celebrating.

Phramaha Chayapol Khemapanyo​, the abbot of Pathumrungsiwatanaram Buddhist Monastery on Farndon Rd, Hastings, has been sitting, waiting, watching and praying over the past heartstopping 18 days for the safe removal of the boys and their coach.

"We are very happy that they are safe and we hope that they won't have any problems and will be back to normal soon."

During the time the boys were trapped, Khemapanyo said monks at the monastery had been doing a "Buddhist blessing chant".


Rescuing the Wild Boars football team trapped 4km underground and teaching them to dive their way out of flooded caves and tunnels proved a difficult task, while all the time the threat of rain meant the situation in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system could have got far worse.

Nineteen divers helped escort the final five members of the group out of Tham Luang cave in the toughest rescue operation of the past few days.

Monastery secretary Tui Kanthavong said Thais in Hawke's Bay were overjoyed with the rescue result.

"The community is just grateful that people from around the world came together to help the people of Thailand and especially to the divers who have worked so hard in getting the boys and their coach out.

"We've been watching every day, every hour, and just waiting to hear the news."

She said while the monks at the monastery had been chanting for blessings of the boys each night, others had come along when they could.

Multicultural Association Hawke's Bay president Rizwaana Latiff said Hawke's Bay is home to a "very large" Thai community.

"We have been watching it very closely," she said. "I think the Thai community have been having prayer sessions."