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Chiang Rai

Australian cave medic emerges to his own tragic news

The Thaiger

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In the wake of yesterday’s euphoria following the final five team members being successfully evacuated from the Tham Luang caves, a sad epilogue.

An Australian doctor, Richard Harris, partly responsible for looking after the Thai football team during their cave ordeal, emerged last night, exhausted but relieved they job was over. Some sad news awaited him.

He was told that his father had died overnight.

Richard, a world-renowned medic and diver whose presence in the dramatic rescue of the Wild Boars squad was specifically requested by experts and Thai officials, was reportedly the last person to leave the water-logged caves yesterday.

“Harry”, his nickname amongst the caving community, cancelled his holidays to fly into northern Thailand – just one of the enormous international contingent to get the young team out of the Tham Luang caves, alive.

His expertise was called in because he knows caving, the risks, the medical threats and the knowledge to assess people who have been inside for extended periods. He put his own life at risk to head into the flooded cave where the 13 members of Mu Pa had just been found, six days before their extraction began.

Harry braved the a four kilometre slog through cramped, craggy spaces, much of the journey under metres of muddy water, several times.

Australia’s national broadcast, the ABC, says Adelaide-based Harris was the person responsible for choosing the order in which the team would be selected to leave the cave. His specialty in anaesthesia would come particularly in handy as the decision was made to ease some of the team’s anxiety with light stress-reducing medication. The boys would be fully conscious and alert during their evacuation – they had to be – but would have some of their obvious anxiety and potential for panic reduced because of Harry’s knowledge of the medications available.

Harris, part of a 20+ team of Australian caving specialists, was the last person to emerge from the cave at the same time the final five team members were arriving at the Chiang Rai hospital.

Andrew Pearce, head of clinical services at SAAS MedSTAR, where Harris works, announced to the media…

“It is with great sadness that I confirm that Harry’s dad passed away last night a short time after the successful rescue operation in Thailand.”

Andrew said he had spoken with Harry saying that this was “…a time of grief for the Harris family, magnified by the physical and emotional demands of being part of this week’s highly complex and ultimately successful rescue operation.”

Australia’s foreign finister Julie Bishop hailed Harris for being an “integral part of the rescue attempt” saying his role had been extraordinary. Minister Bishop said the Australian government would formally honour all Australians who took part in the rescue.

SOURCES: AFP, The Nation, The Thaiger

- The Thaiger

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Chiang Rai

British divers reveal more details – VIDEO interview John Volanthen

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Whilst the Mu Pa 13 team, along with some Thai Navy Seals, doctors and psychiatrists have participated in a group interview in Chiang Rai tonight, some of the British divers have related their stories to the British press.

Three of the British divers involved in the extraordinary rescue of 12 boys and their football coach who were trapped inside the flooded Tham Luang cave have revealed more details about the dangerous operation.

Richard Stanton who was one of the first divers to find the boys revealed how he first smelt the boys, adding “then they obviously heard us talking, and we saw our lights, and then they started coming down this slope one by one. They were kind of on this ramp around the corner,” he said.

“It was incredible. I wasn’t convinced that they were all going to be OK. But they were all OK,” he added.

Meanwhile, diver Jason Mallinson played down praise of the divers being heroes.

“We just did what we’re… not trained to do, but what we’ve experienced over the last 25 years – we’re happy that we can use that skill set to go and help people, he said.

Meanwhile, in his only solo interview, British diver John Volanthen, who was the other diver along with Richard Stanton to find the group told the BBC just how “remarkable” the rescue was.

SOURCE: The Nation, BBC

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Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai: 26 injured in tour bus accident

The Thaiger

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File Photo

Thai PBS is reporting that 25 French tourists plus one Thai guide have been injured after a tour bus overturned on a secondary road in Mae Lao district of Chiang Rai province yesterday (Tuesday). The road conditions were reported to be ‘poor’ at the time.

Emergency responders report that most of the tourists sustained bruises and were discharged after given first-aid treatment at Mae Lao district hospital. 4-5 of them were in a serious condition

The accident took place in Ban Huey Sarn Yao in Tambon Dong Mada, Mae Lao district as the tour bus was travelling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.

Natthapol Klinchuen, the tour bus driver, who escaped unhurt, waited for the police at the scene of the accident.  He reportedly told the police that he lost control of the bus when it arrived at a curve which was slippery due to rainfall.

The bus then smashed into a kilometre marker and then into roadside bushes before it overturned, said the driver, adding that he did not accelerate the speed nor was there any car trying to overtake his bus which might cause the accident.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Thai PBS

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Chiang Rai

Just one interview – Mu Pa 13 face the media tonight

The Thaiger & The Nation

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The 13 members of the Mu Pa Football Academy, now recovered after their rescue from the Tham Luang caves last week, will sit down for a tightly-controlled media conference this evening.

“After the media conference, which will also be their last, they will return to their homes and try to live a normal life”, said the new Chiang Rai provincial Governor Prachon Pratsakun.

Prachon says the press conference is intended to provide a single opportunity for reporters from around the world to meet and interview the 13 members of the Mu Pa Academy football team, who were rescued earlier this month from depths of the cave in an operation that was watched around the world.

“The players and their families will return to their normal lives after the press conference. To prevent adverse impacts to the boys and their families from too much public attention, they will not speak again to the media.”

“We will allow all survivors to attend the press conference, because people around the world are curious to know the story from their mouths,” he said.

“However, from the discussion with the children and their families, the press conference will be the only official media interview with these children. There will be no more speaking with the press after this meeting, because we want to prevent intrusions to their privacy and being taken advantage of for their fame.”

The Governor warned that anyone who failed to respect the agreement and later intruded on the survivors or their family members could be charged under child protection laws.

Only registered reporters will be allowed to attend the press conference at the Chiang Rai Provincial Administrative Organisation at 6pm today.

Journalists will not be permitted to directly ask questions of the survivors, said the governor. Instead, they must submit their questions to the Provincial Public Relation Office in advance to allow time for psychiatrists to screen them and ensure the questions are appropriate for the young survivors.

Prachon said the measures were meant to prevent inappropriate or sensitive questions being put to the children, which could affect their mental health recovery, considering the trauma they have experienced.

In questions submitted so far by Thai and international media, most wanted to know about the actual events that took place on the first day they ventured into the cave, and what else happened while they were trapped inside the cave.

However, that line of questioning is contrary to a recommendation by the Royal College Of Psychiatrists, which advised against any queries that caused the boys to recall any distressing experiences.

The press conference will be broadcast live through the governmental TV Pool programme “Thailand Move Forward”.

Prachon also said that progress to verify the Thai nationality of three stateless Mu Pa Academy members was being rushed, as all three had previously submitted their nationality verification request before the cave incident.

Nevertheless, he insisted that they will not get special treatment if they fail to meet the required qualifications for Thai nationality.

He also said that the globally renowned rescue operation at Tham Luang cave was a perfect opportunity for Chiang Rai to become a well-known tourist destination.

He revealed a plan to renovate the landscape around the cave to receive large-scale tourist visits, build a museum, and set up safety procedures for visitors to the cave, which “everyone wants to visit because it is now famous”.

STORY: The Nation

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