A diver who is based in Ennis, Co Clare, played a pivotal role in the rescue of the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Jim Warny, who was born in Belgium but lives in Ennis, is in Thailand following a request from the Thai government to the British Cave Rescue Council for more expert cave divers.

In 2010, Mr Warny completed the longest traverse of water-filled underground caves in Ireland and Britain alongside the late Polish explorer, Artur Kozlowski.

Mr Warny is an active member of the cave diving community in Co Clare, and works as a technician for Lufthansa in Shannon.

He was previously a diving instructor in Kilkee.

Before taking part in the rescue operation, Mr Warny described conditions in the cave as total isolation.

He said: "The darkness is like no other darkness, it's your darkest closet and no light at all, if you don't have any light you can't even do two steps without bumping into something so there's nothing else like it.

"The isolation is 100%, it's even more isolated than outer space, they've no radio contact, nothing".

Clare County Councillor Mary Howard paid tribute to Mr Warny.

In a post on Facebook, she said: "I will speak with my colleagues at Clare County Council over the coming days that we as a community and council recognise the bravery of this incredible man". 

The 12 boys and their coach are said to be in good condition following their 17-day ordeal.

The 'Wild Boar' soccer team was rescued from the Tham Luang cave in three day operation, ending an ordeal that gripped Thailand and the world.