Now we look forward to the book and the movie. And we should.

The story of 12 boys and their football coach, trapped for two weeks underground and rescued with the whole world willing them to survive, will live long in popular memory and bear repeated retelling for the goodness it represents.

It is always good to discover how much we can care for people a long way away.


The mountains and forests of northern Thailand are a long way from most of the millions of people who waited anxiously for news of the boys' rescue. But every country has caves, everywhere boys are adventurous, especially in groups.

Everyone can feel for them when they realised rising water was blocking their return and they had to go on, blindly, looking for another way out. The terror they must have faced when they knew there was no way out, and that possibly nobody could find them, is one of many elements of the story yet to be told.

Hopefully, this will remain a story without blame. The team's young coach, the last to be rescued, will have questions to answer. But possibly not from the relieved parents of the boys in his charge.

Some of them have said they do not want him blamed and they are right. Obviously he made a mistake and we do not live in forgiving times.

Had this happened here it is all too likely there would be calls for an inquiry and pressure on the police to bring a prosecution. Thailand may be different and that can teach us something.

The times are also deeply risk-averse. The precautionary principle prevails wherever health and safety, let alone life, may be at risk.

Death is more distant from the lives of current generations than it was when infant mortality was more common, diseases more deadly and wars took a toll.

These days when life expectancy has risen rapidly, many can no longer bear even to call death by its name. People no longer die, they "pass".

These boys, aged 11-16, have had to confront their fears and make their way underwater to survive. Despite the assistance and assurance of accompanying experienced divers, they had to fight the urge to panic, breathe slowly, move carefully along a rope, seeing nothing through their face mask except dim headlamp beams in dark water full of sediment.

But as soon as the emerged from that alien environment they were enveloped in the precautionary principle. They are to remain in seclusion for a week.

Thailand's permanent secretary at its Public Health Ministry said they did not know what infections the boys might have "because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave".

Their families can see them behind glass. In two days, if medical tests show nothing of concern, their parents will be allowed to enter the isolation area dressed in sterilised clothing but must stay 2m away from the boys.

It is a story that has not finished with their rescue and the relief of their families. There is a great deal these boys and their rescuers will have to tell and a great many writers and dramatists will be keen to help them tell it.

As they grow up, knowing how lucky they are to be alive, may their stories continue to have a happy ending.