As each day passed, the chances of a dozen boys and their football coach making it out of a cave in which they were trapped in northern Thailand seemed to grow more slender.
With rising waters blocking their escape, a rescue mission represented a very great risk to all involved. The death of a diver who was trying to reach the boys underlined just how dangerous things had become. But events have taken the most extraordinary turn, with a complex rescue operation starting to bring the boys back to the surface.
The sense of relief among the families of the trapped must be overwhelming. We are especially struck by messages exchanged by the boys’ coach and their parents. His apology for leading them into danger was clearly sincere but those parents might have been forgiven for rejecting it. Instead, they displayed remarkable compassion by reassuring him they did not blame him for the boys’ predicament. Two weeks ago, it seemed this story would have the unhappiest of endings. Instead, it has unfolded in the most surprising way and, in the process, shown us people - from the rescuers to the parents - at their very best.