Show of Gratitude
Days after being rescued from the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand, the Thai soccer team athletes sent their thanks to their rescuers and well-wishers in a video as they recover in the hospital in Chiang Rai city.
Clad in their hospital gowns and wearing surgical masks, the young soccer players appeared healthy and happy.
“Sawasdee krub (Hello), my name is Note, now I am healthy. Thank you for helping us all,” said one of the young footballers, Prajak Sutham, 13, who goes by the nickname “Note.”
Another boy, Nattawut Takamsai, 14, or “Dom,” said he wanted to eat his favourite local dish when he is discharged.
“Sawasdee krub, I am Dom. I am healthy and I want to eat stewed pork on rice (his favourite dish). Thank you, thank you for all the support,” said the bubbly boy.
“Tle” or Duangpet Promthep, 13, also spoke of his desire to eat his favourite dish Phad Krapao (Holy Basil Thai Fried Rice).
The footballers and their coach were trapped in the flooded cave of Tham Luang cave last month. They spent 18 days inside the cave and their story riveted people around the world.
The Daring Rescue
The deemed ‘mission impossible’ rescue efforts that drew collaboration from foreign cave divers and experts have captured the attention of the international community. The striking thing about the successful rescue operation is the ‘never surrender’ resolve of the rescuers and the unique collaborative efforts of the Thai authorities and the foreign experts.
It was not an easy operation which started with the search of the missing boys which lasted for eight days. The perilous search ended on the eighth day and followed by the sudden death of one of the experienced Thai diver.
There was speculation that the boys would only be taken out of the cave once the flood water subsided. But that would have taken four months so they would teach the lost boys scuba diving instead. In a race against time, they opted for plan B which was to rescue the boys the soonest possible. Indeed, after 18 days in the cave, the athletes and their coach were all successfully brought out safely.
Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of Thai and international divers on Sunday and Monday.
Thailand’s Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue effort, said on their Facebook page the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely early on Tuesday evening (local time).
Several hours later, a medic and three SEAL divers who had stayed for days with the boys in their tiny refuge in the cave also came out.
“We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what,” the SEALs said.
The Bold and Brave Efforts of Rescue Teams
It was a tedious rescue operation and it lasted nine days to finally locate the young soccer players. The operation involved reducing water levels inside the cave by using water pumps and drilling through rock to drain water.
It was hard to try to reach the deepest caverns of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave especially amid the relentless rain and flooded entrance of the cave. But through the use of drones equipped with thermal cameras, rescuers were able to detect possible access points and an underwater robot sent back information on the water depth and condition of the cave. These measurements gave them an easier navigation route to locate the teens.
In addition, sniffer dogs were used after smelling clothing belonging to the missing children.
The Lost Thai Soccer Team and Coach
After a soccer practice, the 12 Wild Boars soccer players, accompanied by their young coach went inside the Tham Luang cave complex. It was not their first time wandering around the tourist site. Clear skies may have encouraged them to navigate the cave, but the weather turned bad as rain continued to pour and flooded the cave. Many speculated that the boys were trapped inside the cave and it was too late for them to get out.
When local responders and families went to the cave to search for the young boys, they found backpacks, shoes and bicycles scattered at the entrance of the cave.
The players’ ages range between 11 and 16 and they came from various schools in the province.