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'Fight on, don't despair': Thai cave boys recount ordeal in first public appearance

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'Fight on, don't despair': Thai cave boys recount ordeal in first public appearance

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

 

2018-07-18T123430Z_1_LYNXMPEE6H0Z1_RTROPTP_4_THAILAND-ACCIDENT-CAVE.JPG

People react as the 12 soccer players and their coach who were rescued from a flooded cave arrive for their news conference in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

 

CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand waved, smiled and offered traditional "wai" greetings in their first public appearance on Wednesday at a national broadcast in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

 

Doctors, relatives and friends, some in yellow traditional garb, greeted the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach, who wore T-shirts emblazoned with a red graphic of a wild boar and carried in footballs they kicked gently on the set.

 

"Bringing the Wild Boars Home," read a banner in Thai that greeted the soccer team on the set, designed to resemble a soccer field, complete with goalposts and nets, where the boys sat on a dais, beside five members of the rescue team.

 

A crowd of media and onlookers was penned behind barricades as the boys arrived in vans from the hospital where they had stayed since last week's international effort to extricate them from a flooded cave complex in which they had been trapped.

 

"I told everyone fight on, don't despair," said one of the boys, recounting how they battled during the excruciating days spent in the cave.

 

Another, Adul Sam-on, 14, recalled the moment when two British divers found the group on July 2, squatting in a flooded chamber several kilometres within the cave complex.

 

"It was magical," he said. "I had to think a lot before I could answer their questions."

 

He added, "It was in the evening when we were scratching rocks on the top of the boulder and we heard voices."

 

That discovery triggered the rescue effort that brought them all to safety over the course of three days, organised by Thai navy SEALs and a global team of cave-diving experts.

 

The group had planned to explore the Tham Luang cave complex for about an hour after soccer practice on June 23. But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

 

"We took turns digging at the cave walls," said their coach Ekkapol Chantawong, who has been credited with keeping the boys alive by some of their parents. "We didn't want to wait around until authorities found us."

 

But their efforts were to no avail, he said, adding, "Almost everyone can swim. Some aren't strong swimmers however."

 

The group, which had eaten before going into the caves, took no food on the excursion, and had to subsist on water dripping from stalactites in the cave during their ordeal, he added.

 

"We only drank water," said one of the boys, nicknamed Tee.

 

The team's youngest member, Titan, added, "I had no strength. I tried not to think about food so I didn't get more hungry."

 

The boys, who sported crisp haircuts, had gained 3 kg (6.6 lb) each on average since the rescue, and ran through confidence-building exercises ahead of Wednesday's event, the hospital director said.

 

The rescue effort drew global media attention and hundreds of journalists, and excitement picking up again in the usually sleepy town of Chiang Rai ahead of the much-anticipated 45-minute live appearance broadcast on dozens of channels.

 

"We don't know what wounds the kids are carrying in their hearts," said justice ministry official Tawatchai Thaikaew, who asked for the boys' privacy to be respected after the discharge, for fear that media attention could affect their mental health.

 

"The media know the children are in a difficult situation, they have overcome peril and if you ask risky questions then it could break the law," he told reporters.

 

King Maha Vajiralongkorn has granted permission for a party in the Royal Plaza, a public square in Bangkok's old town, to thank the Thai and foreign participants in the rescue, the government said.

 

But the moment was bittersweet, as two of the boys held up a framed pencil sketch of Samarn Kunan, 38, the former Thai navy diver who died while he worked underwater, laying oxygen tanks along a potential exit route out of the cave complex.

 

"Everyone was very sad," said the coach, Ekkapol. "They felt like they were the reason he had to die and his family had to suffer."

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-7-18
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'It was magical' - Thai boys relive their discovery in cave ordeal

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

 

2018-07-18T144355Z_1_LYNXMPEE6H17L_RTROPTP_3_THAILAND-ACCIDENT-CAVE.JPG

The soccer players and their coach who were rescued from a flooded cave arrive for their news conference in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

 

CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - "Fight on, don't despair": the 12 boys and their football coach rescued from a flooded Thai cave complex described on Wednesday how they survived on nothing but dripping water, and even tried to dig their way out.

 

The Wild Boars team were making their first public appearance after the long ordeal, waving, smiling and offering Thai traditional "wai" greetings on a national TV broadcast.

 

One of the boys, 14-year-old Adul Sam-on recalled the moment when two British divers found the trapped group on July 2, squatting in a flooded chamber several kilometres within the cave complex.

 

"It was magical," he said. "I had to think a lot before I could answer their questions," added Adul, who speaks English. "Everybody was happy, it was the most hopeful moment in 10 days."

 

On Wednesday doctors, relatives and friends - some in yellow traditional clothes - greeted the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach. The team were kitted out in T-shirts emblazoned with a red graphic of a wild boar, and kicked footballs gently on the TV set.

 

"Bringing the Wild Boars Home", read a banner in Thai welcoming them on the set, designed to resemble a football pitch, complete with goalposts and nets.

 

A crowd of media and onlookers were penned behind barricades as the boys arrived in vans from the hospital where they had stayed since their rescue from the complex in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Rai.

 

"I told everyone fight on, don't despair," said one boy, describing how the group had battled to stay alive.

 

Their discovery triggered the rescue effort that brought them all to safety over three days, organised by Thai navy SEALs and a global team of cave-diving experts.

 

The order in which the boys eventually left the cave did not depend on the state of their health, said their coach Ekkapol Chantawong, whose efforts have been credited by some parents with keeping the boys alive.

 

"The ones whose homes are the furthest went first, so they could tell everyone that the boys were fine," he added.

 

"WE ONLY DRANK WATER"

The group had planned to explore the Tham Luang caves for about an hour after football practise on June 23. But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

 

"We took turns digging at the cave walls," Ekkapol said. "We didn't want to wait around until authorities found us."

 

One of the boys added: "We used stones to dig in the cave. We dug 3 to 4 metres." That represents a depth of 10-13 feet.

 

Their efforts were to no avail, Ekkapol said, adding: "Almost everyone can swim. Some aren't strong swimmers, however."

 

The group, who had eaten before going into the caves, took no food on an excursion that was supposed to last only an hour, and had to subsist on water dripping from stalactites, he said.

 

"We only drank water," said one of the boys, nicknamed Tee. "On the first day we were OK, but after two days we started feeling tired."

 

The team's youngest member, who goes by the name Titan, added: "I had no strength. I tried not to think about food so I didn't get more hungry."

 

Thoughts of their parents also preoccupied the boys, with one admitting, "I was afraid. That I wouldn't go home and I would get scolded by my mother."

 

The boys, who returned home on Wednesday night, all apologised for being naughty, admitting to having told their parents only that they were going to football practise, but not about the plans to go into the cave.

 

The boys, who sported crisp haircuts, had gained 3 kg (6.6 lb) each on average since the rescue, and ran through confidence-building exercises before Wednesday's event, said hospital director Chaiwetch Thanapaisal.

 

'REGULAR LIVES'

The operation to extract the team involved a core team of 18, including 13 foreign divers. The boys, fitted with thick wetsuits and full-face scuba masks, were guided through dark, flooded passageways towards the mouth of the cave.

 

The first part of the journey involved some diving. For the last part, the boys were put in green plastic toboggans and carried through.

 

The rescue effort drew global media attention and hundreds of journalists.

 

Officials have asked that the boys' privacy be respected once they are home. "We want the boys to have regular lives and go back to school and ... to have time with families and activities they like," said psychologist Patchaneewan Inta.

 

The moment was bittersweet, as two of the boys held up a framed pencil sketch of Samarn Kunan, 38, a former Thai navy diver who died while he worked underwater, laying oxygen tanks along a potential exit route.

 

"Everyone was very sad," said Ekkapol, adding that the boys would spend time as novice Buddhist monks to honour the diver's memory.

 

Hugs and tears greeted many of the boys when they made their way home. In Mae Sai district, where the cave is located, relatives hugged Peerapat Sompiangjai, 16, before blessing him with water as he entered his home.

The scene was repeated across other homes.

 

Earlier on the televised show many of the boys said that they would not set foot inside the cave again.

 

(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak Chayut Setboonsarng, Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat in BANGKOK; Vorasit Satienlerk in CHIANG RAI and Jiraporn Kuhakan in MAE SAI; Writing by Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Darren Schuettler and David Stamp)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-19
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It was a miracle, say Mu Pa boys

By THE NATION

 

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The 12 boys of the Mu Pa football team and their coach yesterday give their first media interview since being rescued from Tham Luang cave on July 10. The team was discharged from hospital yesterday.

 

FOOTBALLERS APOLOGISE TO THEIR PARENTS, REVEAL THEY HAD INTENDED TO BE IN THE CAVE FOR ONLY ONE HOUR.

 

THE RESCUED Mu Pa boys and their assistant coach yesterday promised to live their lives with caution and care having learnt a lesson in being trapped in a Chiang Rai cave for more than two weeks. 

 

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Rescued Thai football coach Ekkapol Chantawong (L) together with 12 children pays tribute during a press conference in Chiang Rai on July 18, 2018 following their discharge from the hospital to volunteer and former Navy SEAL diver Saman Kunan who died during the rescue operation. // AFP PHOTO

 

The group also expressed their gratitude to Lt-Commander Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, who lost his life during the marathon operation to extricate the team from the cave. 

 

Assistant coach Ekkapol ‘Ek’ Chantawong told a press conference that he and the boys were upset and saddened when they learned of the death of diver Saman as he replenished air tanks for the mission.

They expressed their gratitude and condolences by writing messages on a portrait of Saman, promising to grow up to be good persons.

 

The coach and the 12 boys were speaking in public for the first time since being extracted from the cave in a three-day operation that captured the world’s attention. After they were rescued from the cave on July 10, the team were placed under observation at Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital where their physical and mental condition was checked. 

 

Reflecting on how they were found 10 days after being trapped by flash floods in the cave, Adul Samon, 14, said Ekkapol heard the sounds of people talking.

 

Ekkapol told the boys to stop talking and stay quiet so that he could verify the source of the sound. The boys then sat still. Adul said he told another boy, nicknamed Nick, to go down the ledge to examine the sound because Nick had a flashlight.

 

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However, Nick was slow so Adul said he grabbed the flashlight and that was when his eyes fell on the British divers. “They were talking to each other when I saw them. At first I thought they were Thais but when I saw that they were foreigners, I said ‘hello’ to them.”

 

“That was the miracle, the first in 10 days after we were trapped inside the cave. I was stunned and did not know what to say as we had been in the cave for many days. They asked me a question and it was quite some time before I was able to answer it,” he said.

 

One of the divers asked, “How are you?” to which Adul said he replied, “I’m fine.” He then asked them, “Can I help you?” and they said no, no.

 

Adul became famous as the boy who engaged in a conversation in English with the British divers. He was heard in the video footage recorded by the divers answering all their questions.

 

Media veteran Suthichai Yoon, who moderated yesterday’s event, asked the group who had asked Adul to act as translator. Ekkapol said he was the one, as he could not understand English. However, since Adul was busy conversing with the divers he could not translate so one of the boys told the coach to be patient.

 

Swimming in a flooded cave

 

Coach Ek said they had planned beforehand to travel into the cave and since they intended to stay for only one hour, they did not take any food with them.

 

“At first, we planned to reach our destination – Muang Badan [the deepest section of the cave] within one hour, as I had to also escort Nong to a special class at 5pm,” Ek said.

 

He said the water was shallow when they ventured into the cave, so they decided to go further by swimming through the submerged section.

 

“I discussed with the boys whether we should go forward by swimming through the submerged section. And since the water was shallow enough, the team agreed to go ahead until we reached Muang Badan,” he said.

 

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But the situation underwent a dramatic change when the boys found themselves at a dead-end. After successfully crossing the first submerged section of the cave, they found the way ahead was also flooded, preventing them from travelling further. At the same time, they could not retreat either, because the floodwater had risen to levels that made it impossible for them to swim back to the cave entrance, he said.

 

“At that point, we still had hope that the water level would recede and allow us to swim back to the cave entrance. But the following morning, when we found the water level had not subsided, we realised we were trapped,” Ek revealed.

 

“At that moment, we considered our choices: we could dig our way out through the cave wall, or we should go further to the end of the cave, as some of our team members had heard that there is a secret entrance to the cave from there.”

 

But they never had a chance to try out the second option, as the water level was too high for them to go further. So the only option before them was to wait for help at Noen Nom Sao, where they were found, he said.

 

Life inside the cave was difficult for them, one young footballer, seated next to coach Ek, said. 

 

When they ran out of food they had taken into the cave, they had to solely live on water dripping from the wall, which tasted just like normal drinking water. 

 

Two days into the cave, they started to feel weak and were told by coach Ake to stay still and to use only one flashlight, he said. By the time they were found by the cave divers on July 2, most of them were very weak.

 

218d24d6d587faf96220200c0d99f286.jpeg

Some of the rescued twelve members of the Wild Boar soccer team depart from the Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Chiang Rai province, Thailand, 18 July 2018. The 13 members of the Wild Boar child soccer team, including their assistant coach, who were trapped in the Tham Luang cave since 23 June 2018, will make their first appearance for a tightly-controlled interview with media after they were rescued, before returning to their homes with families. // EPA-EFE PHOTO

 

One 11-year-old boy said he was very hungry and tried not to think of food. Another boy said he tried to fill his stomach with water and he would join with others to dig the cave wall with rocks. They started this activity 3-4 days after being trapped and by the time they were rescued, they had managed to dig a hole that was about 3-4 metres deep.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30350350

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-07-19
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12 minutes ago, Orton Rd said:

This should be an end to it or the kids will be exploited for the entertainment value, if not already

Agre, .... and exploited for the story's ability to make profits, mainly for others.  Enough thanks.

Edited by scorecard

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Sorry to spil the fun here but now its clear there wasn’t any permission from any parents for this cave trip.

 

 

 

Edited by Destiny1990
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