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Trapped soccer player celebrated 16th birthday stranded in flooded cave

The family was awaiting his return on June 23 to celebrate but now they have kept his birthday cake to surprise him when he is rescued.
(Source:Getty Images)
(Source:Getty Images)

Pheeraphat Sompiengjai, one of the young soccer players trapped in a partly flooded cave in Thailand for days, spent his 16th birthday stranded in the cavern as a rescue operation for the 12 boys and a soccer coach ensues. Sompiengjai along with 11 other boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach decided to walk into the Tham Luang cave network on June 23 and became trapped.

That day was Sompiengjai's birthday and he spent it trapped and panicking as his family anxiously waited for him to come home to have dinner and celebrate. However, Sompiengjai, whose nickname is "Night", never returned.

Sompiengjai's sister Phunphatsa, while speaking to the AFP, said: "He never missed any time he was supposed to be home. We had prepared dinner to celebrate and some relatives came to join." The sister added that their family has kept his birthday cake because they "still had hope" he would be found alive. They still have the frosted yellow cake with a smiling cartoon character in the fridge. The family says that the cake is to "surprise him" when he comes back home after he is rescued.

Relatives of the missing boys show photos of them after the 12 boys and their soccer coach have been found alive in the cave where they've been missing for over a week after monsoon rains blocked the main entrance on July 02, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Getty Images)

Sompiengjai's teammates had reportedly pitched in to give him special snacks on his birthday. The boy's family thinks that the snacks probably sustained him for a little period of his ordeal in the cave. Phunphatsa said that the entire family had been very anxious about the boys stranded in the cave, however, they were a little relieved after the Thai navy released a footage which showed the team smiling and looking healthier than the condition they were spotted in. Reports state that the entire group was found huddled together on a rocky slope in the darkness, emaciated.

Sompiengjai's mother, Supaluk said: "It’s very good to see he is safe. I know he will be okay, AFP reported. "I feel it’s a long time (to wait) … but it’s okay if it makes him safe,” Phunphatsa said. She also added that "the house is quiet" without her brother. 

The authorities are now reportedly teaching the entire soccer team how to dive as they think of other alternatives to get them out of the cave. Reports state that it could be days or even months before the boys can be rescued from the labyrinth.