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Chiang Rai

Can’t swim, can’t dive. But it’s the only option.

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Can’t swim, can’t dive. But it’s the only option. | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Army doctor Colonel Pak Loharachun on Wednesday prepares inside the cave to treat minor wounds sustained by the football team members – Thai Navy SEALS

“The fittest of the survivors will be the first to come out, others will follow,” Narongsak Osotanakorn, Chiang Rai governor and head of the rescue operations, said yesterday.

Rescuers do not want to delay their exit due to upcoming rains and the possibility of more flooding in cave.

The 13 teenagers and their 25 year old coach are now familiarising themselves with diving gear as rescue planners concluded yesterday that they will have to dive through floodwaters to get out of the Tham Luang cave, where they have been stranded since June 23.

The easing of the flood situation has raised the prospects of helping the 13 footballers come out of the cave where they have spent 11 days.

“The floodwater levels have been dropping by one centimetre per hour. If we can maintain this momentum, it should be safe enough to bring the kids out soon,” Narongsak said.

The US Cave Rescue Commission’s national coordinator Anmar Mirza said that while diving was the quickest option to bring the survivors out, it was also the “most dangerous” option. But the option of letting the survivors stay inside the cave until the floodwaters completely receded was yesterday ruled out amid the significant risk of impending heavy downpours that could again leave the cave flooded.

Can't swim, can't dive. But it's the only option. | News by The Thaiger

The 10 kilometre long cave in Chiang Rai province is normally flooded between July and November every year. On Monday night, experienced cave divers from Britain found the missing football team at a spot about 5km from the cave’s entrance.

The 13 survivors will stay put at their current location while detailed preparations are being made for their safe evacuation. They have been joined by Royal Thai Navy SEALs and are also supplied with soft food, water, light, medicine, thermal blankets and diving gear.

The survivors yesterday started to learn how to wear full-face masks and practice breathing. Medics, including Army doctor Colonel Pak Loharachun, have completed health checks for all team members and found them relatively healthy.

One footballer asked in a video posted yesterday, “Can we go out today?” Pak told the boys to be patient, explaining that despite his diving skills it took him six hours to move from the third chamber of the cave to the current location of the survivors.

The third chamber of the cave, which is about two kilometres from the entrance, is now operating as the forward command of the rescue operations. Lighting and communication devices have been installed there and also supplied with oxygen tanks, medicine and all other necessary supplies. From the third chamber to the flooded T-junction is a distance of about 800 metres. From that intersection, there is a narrow and completely submerged passage that requires rescue teams to dive to get through. The floodwater level there was nearly five metres as of press time. After getting out of this narrow passage, rescue teams have to climb and hike a stretch of 400 metres. This zone is dry. Then, they have to dive for about another 130 metres to reach the so-called Pattaya Beach. Then the team must walk further over the beach before making another 400 metre long dive to reach the slope where the survivors have gathered.

All these survivors will have to be taught to swim and dive before being escorted out. Even with diving experts by their side, the team will have to dive and swim on their own at some points in the journey out of the cave.

A rescue team from the United States Indo-Pacific Command has vowed to support the operations at the Tham Luang cave until all 13 survivors are safely brought out.

Can't swim, can't dive. But it's the only option. | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Chiang Rai

Journey back to Tham Luang in ‘The Cave’ – VIDEO

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Journey back to Tham Luang in ‘The Cave’ – VIDEO | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Tom Waller on site during the filming of The Cave – AFP

Determined divers racing against time. Rising waters threatening lives. 12 teenagers and their soccer coach trapped inside for two weeks. A remote cave that most had never heard of.

The stuff of a Hollywood drama, except that it’s all true and happened in Chiang Rai last year. Now the first of several re-tellings of the story comes to the big screen in The Cave.

The ordeal in late June and early July last year had barely ended when filmmakers began their own race to get the nail-biting drama onto cinema screens. The first of those projects premiered at the start of October, when director Tom Waller’s The Cave showed at the Busan Film Festival in South Korea.

The film was shot over three months earlier this year and has been in post-production since then. The 45 year old Thai-British filmmaker says the epic tale of the Wild Boars (Mu Pa) football team was a story he simply had to tell.

“I took the view that this was going to be a story about the people we didn’t know about, about the cave divers who came all the way from across the planet.”

The 13 young men entered the Tham Luang cave complex after soccer practice and were quickly trapped inside by rising floodwater. The boys were forced to spend nine nights lost in the cave, whilst Navy Seal and other diver searched frantically, before they were spotted by a British diver.

It would take another eight days before they were all safe, against all odds, in a risky mission.

Waller was visiting his father in Ireland when he saw television news accounts of the drama.

“I thought this would be an amazing story to tell on screen.”

But putting the parts together after their dramatic rescue proved to be a challenge. Thailand’s government, led by the military NCPO, became very protective of the story, barring unauthorised access to the Mu Pa team or their parents. Waller often feared his production might be shut down.

His good fortune was that the events at the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province had multiple angles and interesting characters. Especially compelling were the stories of the rescuers, particularly the expert divers who rallied from around the world. He decided to make a film “about the volunteer spirit of the rescue.”

Other people proposed telling the story from the point of view of the boys, and Netflix nailed down those rights in a deal brokered by the Thai government.

“I took the view that this was going to be a story about the people we didn’t know about, about the cave divers who came all the way from across the planet. They literally dropped everything to go and help, and I just felt that that was more of an exciting story to tell, to find out how these boys were brought out and what they did to get them out.”

Waller even had more than a dozen key rescue personnel play themselves.

Waller said they were natural actors, blending in almost seamlessly with the professionals around them, and helped by the accuracy of the settings and the production’s close attention to detail.

“What you are really doing is asking them to remember what they did and to show us what they were doing and what they were feeling like at the time. That was really very emotional for some of them because it was absolutely real.”

Waller says his film is likely to have a visceral effect on some viewers, evoking a measure of claustrophobia.

“It’s a sort of immersive experience with the sound of the environment, you know, the fact that is very dark and murky, that the water is not clear.”

“In Hollywood films, when they do underwater scenes, everything is crystal clear. But in this film it’s murky and I think that’s the big difference. This film lends itself to being more of a realistic portrayal of what happened.”

Some scenes were filmed on location at the entrance to the actual Tham Luang cave, but most of the action was shot elsewhere.

“We filmed in real water caves that were flooded, all year-round. It is very authentic in terms of real caves, real flooded tunnels, real divers and real creepy-crawlies in there. So it was no mean feat trying to get a crew to go and film in these caves.”

The Cave goes on general release in Thailand on November 28.

ORIGINAL ARTICE: Associated Press | Time.com

Journey back to Tham Luang in 'The Cave' - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Tom Waller – Associated Press/Sakchai Lalit

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Air Pollution

Less monitoring, more enforcement – Prawit warns northern officials

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Less monitoring, more enforcement – Prawit warns northern officials | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Thaiger

Thai Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa were in Chiang Mai yesterday to give provincial governors and state agency officials a ‘heads up’ in preparation for another looming season of forest fires and haze.

The North suffers perennial choking smog from approximately February to April, and Prawit passed on a message from PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who, he said, was fretting over the impact on people’s health.

He said the Environment Ministry would take the lead in coordinating with neighbouring countries and related local authorities to monitor the fire problem both in and outside Thailand.

The fires are lit in northern Thailand, and over the border in Myanmar, as burn-offs to prepare for the next year’s crops. Last year’s choking smoke haze was headline news for months.

SOURCE: The Nation

Less monitoring, more enforcement - Prawit warns northern officials | News by The Thaiger

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Chiang Rai

Thai police officer arrested with nearly 200,000 meth pills in his luggage

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Thai police officer arrested with nearly 200,000 meth pills in his luggage | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thai PBS World

A serving policeman has been arrested by police in Chiang Rai province after 198,000 methamphetamine pills were found in his luggage on a Bangkok-bound bus.

Mae Sai district policemen at a checkpoint in Tambon Pong-Ngam, stopped a Nakhonchai Tour bus bound for Bangkok from Mae Sai, for a routine check. The officers found a locked suitcase on the luggage rack above the front seat, occupied by Pol Lt-Col Surachit Thavuth, and asked him to open the bag for inspection.

Pol Lt-Col Surachit Thavuth is a police investigative inspector in Uthai Thani in central Thailand.

Surachit managed to run out of the bus and hid in the roadside bushes, but was eventually apprehended and brought back to the bus to unlock the bag, where the methamphetamine pills were found.

Surachit told the police he went to Mae Sai to take delivery of the drugs for transport to a drug dealer, whom he identified as ‘Oak’, in Bangkok in return for 100,000 baht. Following his arrest, Thai PBS reports that Surachit was temporarily suspended from duty and a disciplinary committee has been set up to deal with the matter.

Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Pol Col Krisana Pattanacharoen said the national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda ordered the investigation to be expanded to find the mastermind behind the drug deal.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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