5 stories that captured the world’s attention in 2018

From a cave rescue to a royal wedding, 2018 was packed with momentous events.

December 16, 2018, 10:28 AM

This year had no shortage of stories that grabbed headlines and captivated the world.

From a royal wedding to a soccer team trapped in a cave, to a refugee crisis and a nuclear summit, 2018 was packed with consequential events.

Here’s a look at five of the stories that grabbed the world’s attention.

A miraculous cave rescue

When a dozen young soccer players and their coach ventured into a cave in Thailand in June, they thought they’d explore for a bit and come back out that day.

PHOTO: Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand in this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy, July 7, 2018.
Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand in this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy, July 7, 2018.
Royal Thai Navy via AP

But pouring rain flooded the cave -- pushing them deeper inside and stranding them without supplies or any way to call for help.

Authorities mounted a desperate search-and-rescue mission as family members and the world’s media gathered outside. Days ticked by with no word of their fate.

After nearly 10 tortuous days, expert divers finally found them -- cold and hungry but in relatively good condition.

PHOTO: Twelve Thai boys and their football coach, rescued from a flooded cave after being trapped, attend a press conference in Chiang Rai, July 18, 2018, following their discharge from the hospital.
Twelve Thai boys and their football coach, rescued from a flooded cave after being trapped, attend a press conference in Chiang Rai, July 18, 2018, following their discharge from the hospital.
Lillian SuwanRumpha/AFP/Getty Images

Thai authorities, working with divers from around the world, devised a complicated and daring plan to bring the team out, one by one. One diver died setting up the operation.

Over several days and one by one, the divers pulled the boys, who were sedated, through narrow passageways to the cave’s entrance.

All of them made it out alive, relatively unscathed, and the world celebrated them and their rescuers as heroes.

A nuclear summit

President Donald Trump in June became the first U.S. president to meet a North Korean leader when he sat down with Kim Jong Un at a hotel in Singapore.

The summit followed years of missile tests, military exercises, threats, and name-calling. The U.S. and the North -- both nuclear powers -- at times verged on the edge of threatening war.

PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore.
Getty Images

But Trump and Kim began preaching detente and agreed to a high-stakes summit. Their highly anticipated meeting, though, was high on symbolism and short on substance -- with Kim only making vague promises about denuclearization.

In the months since, American and North Korean officials have continued to meet, albeit with less frequency of late, and tensions have remained lower.

While there are no signs that the talks have made much progress, the Trump administration has been pushing ahead with plans for a second summit in 2019.

The killing of a Saudi writer

When Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in early October, he was merely looking for documentation for his upcoming wedding.

But the Saudi writer, who sometimes criticized the Saudi regime, never emerged. His disappearance set of frantic speculation the kingdom had kidnapped him -- or worse -- to silence a critical voice.

PHOTO: Jamal Khashoggi, then general manager of a new Arabic news channel speaks during a press conference, in Manama, Bahrain, Dec. 15, 2014.
Jamal Khashoggi, then general manager of a new Arabic news channel speaks during a press conference, in Manama, Bahrain, Dec. 15, 2014.
Hasan Jamali/AP, FILE

Over the coming days, Saudi Arabia changed its story several times, eventually claiming he died in a brawl with a team of Saudis sent there to convince him to end his self-imposed exile. Saudi authorities made arrests and dismissed high-ranking officials.

Turkey and others have suggested the crime was premeditated -- and ordered at the top levels of the Saudi government. Critics have pointed a finger at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has overseen the repression of political dissidents and human rights activists.

Turkey has kept up pressure on its regional rival. In the United States, officials across the political spectrum have called out the crown prince and threatened to withdraw U.S. support for a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. President Trump, though, has largely backed the status quo.

Khashoggi’s body has not been found.

An exodus from Venezuela

The economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsened precipitously in 2018, with the number of refugees and migrants fleeing the country exploding.

The United Nations said in November that 3 million Venezuelans had left the country, with a third in neighboring Colombia and the vast majority in Latin America and the Caribbean.

PHOTO: Venezuelan migrants stand in line to register their exit from Colombia before entering into Ecuador, at the Rumichaca International Bridge, Colombia, Aug. 9, 2018.
Venezuelan migrants stand in line to register their exit from Colombia before entering into Ecuador, at the Rumichaca International Bridge, Colombia, Aug. 9, 2018.
Daniel Tapia/Reuters

Once prosperous, Venezuela’s economy has imploded after decades of corruption and mismanagement, most recently under its current president, Nicolas Maduro. It sits on giant oil reserves, but much of its population lives in poverty. Inflation has skyrocketed, and an increasing percentage of the country’s 32 million people struggle to put food on the table.

The exodus from Venezuela has strained its neighbors’ economies and led to massive humanitarian challenges.

An American joins the British royal family

Actress Meghan Markle, from Los Angeles, wed Britain’s Prince Harry on May 19, captivating royal fans around the world.

Tens of millions of people around the globe watched the couple tie the knot in at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, England, the site of many royal weddings in years past.

PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, exit St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after their royal wedding ceremony, in Windsor, England, May 19, 2018.
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, exit St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after their royal wedding ceremony, in Windsor, England, May 19, 2018.
Neil Hall/Pool via EPA/Shutterstock

After sharing their first kiss as newlyweds, the couple rode in a carriage past thousands of well-wishers cheering them on.

The couple, who were granted the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex, met on a blind date in London in 2016. They made their engagement official last year.

After taking a honeymoon, the pair got back to work -- with Meghan joining Harry in carrying out royal duties, from philanthropic endeavors to official engagements.

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