On Saturday 23 June 2018, a group of twelve boys aged between 11 and 16 from a local junior football team named the Wild Boars and their 25-year-old assistant coach, Ekkaphon Chanthawong, went missing after setting out to explore the cave.

Around 7 p.m., head coach Nopparat Kanthawong checked his phone, finding about twenty missed calls from parents worried that their children had not come home.

On 25 June, Thai Navy SEALs divers arrived and began searching the cave. A Thai Navy SEAL said the water was so murky that even with lights they could not see where they were going underwater.

On 27 June, three BCRC (British Cave Rescue Council) cave divers arrived with specialist equipment including Heyphone LF radios, followed by separate teams of open water divers.

On 28 June, a United States Air Force team from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, the 31st Rescue Squadron, and the 353rd Special Operations Group joined them.

By 29 June, an Australian Federal Police team of Specialist Response Group divers had arrived and on Sunday a Chinese team of divers from the Beijing Peaceland Foundation.

The search resumed on 2 July after the weather improved. The twelve boys and the coach were discovered at approximately 22:00, by Stanton and Volanthen, whose efforts were overseen from outside by BCRC diver Robert Harper.

On 3 July, the trapped group were joined by three Thai Navy SEALs who supported them until the rescue. The SEALs included Thai Army doctor Lt. Col. Pak Loharachun of the 3rd Medical Battalion, who had completed the Navy SEALs course.

On 6 July, the oxygen level in the cave was detected to have dropped, raising fears that the boys might develop hypoxia if they remained for a prolonged time.

On 5 July, at 8:37 pm, Saman Kunan, a 37-year-old former Thai Navy SEAL, made a dive from Chamber 3 to the T-junction close to Pattaya Beach to deliver three air tanks. During his return he lost consciousness underwater. His dive buddy attempted CPR without success.

On the morning of 8 July, officials instructed the media and all non-essential personnel around the cave entrance to clear the area as a rescue operation was imminent, due to the threat of monsoon rains later in the week, which were expected to flood the cave until October.

On 9 July, four more boys were rescued from the cave. On 10 July, the last four boys and their coach were rescued from the cave. Experience helped streamline the rescue procedure, so the total time to extract a boy was reduced from three hours on the first day to just over two hours on the final day, allowing four boys and the coach to be rescued.

The remaining four boys and their coach were rescued. It was later confirmed that all of the rescue divers had also successfully exited the cave.

Thirteen Lives is a 2022 American biographical survival film based on the Tham Luang cave rescue directed and produced by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by William Nicholson. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, and Tom Bateman. Production companies are Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bron Creative, Imagine Entertainment.