THE incredible true story of a Thai cave rescue operation which involved a caver from Powys is set to be turned into a Hollywood movie.

The rescue of 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand transfixed the world in 2018 and now it is being told in a new film.

Written by Gladiator's William Nicholson, Thirteen Lives will star Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen and In Bruges' Colin Farrell. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard will director the movie.

Gary Mitchell, who grew up in Newtown and now lives near Staylittle, was one of a group of UK cavers and divers who flew over to Thailand to help with the rescue.

Divers from the rescue mission, who helped to save 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand, arrive back at Londons Heathrow Airport. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story RESCUE

Divers from the rescue mission, who helped to save 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand, arrive back at London's Heathrow Airport. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story RESCUE

"To have it put into a feature film is exciting," said the 47-year-old. "I would definitely watch it. It is a spectacular story and against all of the odds.

"We were not expecting to potentially save any of those children's lives. But to get them out all alive was pretty amazing.

"It was a hugely significant event in many people's lives. People in almost every country were aware of it. It was a major part of my life and will be for the rest of my life.

"There were some really sad elements too. The death of Saman Gunan was a significant turning point in the search and rescue mission. I hope that will be reflected in the film in a positive way."

It is not the first time the Thai rescue story has been turned into a movie. The Cave, which was released in 2019, had a character that was based on Mr Mitchell and another caver.

After watching the film, Mr Mitchell, who has been part of the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team for 20 years, said he "found it strange but slightly amusing".