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Chiang Rai: A long and winding rescue ahead

Thaiger

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“…experts are saying it could take weeks or even months.”

Rescuers are bracing for a long and difficult evacuation for the 13 Thai kids found alive in the Tham Luang cave after they went missing on June 23. All this chatter outside the cave whilst food and medicine was being shuttled to the young football players through muddy waters today.

The 12 young boys and their football coach were discovered thin and hungry, but with good spirits, on a mound of mud surrounded by water last night around 10pm. The discovery ended an agonising search that captivated the nation and was making headlines around the world.

But the focus quickly shifted from find the team to the tricky task of how to evacuate them safely from the still-flooded caverns. Much-needed food and medical supplies – including high-calorie gels and paracetamol – reached them early today as rescuers prepared for a prolonged extraction operation.

The Thai military says it is providing months’ worth of food and providing diving lessons to the boys as part of the process to help them out of the waterlogged Tham Luang network in the country’s monsoon-drenched north.

“We are preparing to send additional food that can sustain the team for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water,” Navy Captain Anand Surawan said.

He refused to say how long they might be trapped, but experts are saying it could take weeks or even months.

Chiang Rai: A long and winding rescue ahead | News by Thaiger

The astonishing rescue sparked jubilation across the country after officials, local rescue personnel and international experts mounted a massive and gruelling operation, beset by heavy downpours and fast-moving floodwaters.

“We called this ‘mission impossible’ because it rained every day… but with our determination and equipment we fought nature,” Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said this morning.

The boys were discovered at about 10:00 pm Monday by British divers some 400 metres (1,300 feet) from where they were believed to be stranded, sseveral kilometres inside the cave.

In the video, posted on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page, one of the boys asks the rescuers to “go outside”. In response the British diver says: “No, no not today… many, many people are coming… we are the first,” in reference to the vast and complex rescue operation that has taken over the mountainside.

The harrowing task of getting the boys out is complicated by the fact that they are in a weak state and are not experienced divers. In fact none of them have any diving experience at all.

The rugged and wet kilometres-long course toward the entrance take a healthy SEAL diver six hours. If diving proves impossible, there is an outside chance they could be drilled out or wait for waters to recede and walk out on foot. But the clock is ticking with heavy rains forecast to return this week as the monsoon season bites deeper.

The priority is to get the team’s strength up before they start the tricky journey out, officials said, reluctant to offer a concrete timeline.

“I’m so relieved, though I still don’t have the chance to see him… I want to tell him I’m still here waiting,” Kieng Khamleu, said of her son Pornchai Khamleung inside the cave. Another parent said he could hardly believe the good news.

“It’s unimaginable. I’ve been waiting for 10 days, I never imagined this day would come,” the father of one of the boys said.

Diving teams have been laying telephone lines in the cave today to set up phone calls to the boys, the governor said.

Chiang Rai: A long and winding rescue ahead | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Chiang Rai sees 2 new infections linked to Bangkok, Chiang Mai entertainment venues

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Facebook photo via สำนักงานสาธารณสุขจังหวัดเชียงราย (Chiang Rai Provincial Health Office)

Chiang Rai is reporting 2 new Covid infections that are linked to entertainment venue clusters from Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The people who tested positive for the virus have entered a 14 day mandatory hospital quarantine. The governor of Chiang Rai and chair of the Communicable Diseases Committee ordered anyone travelling to the province from a red zone to self-monitor for 14 days and avoid contact with others.

He also noted that anyone returning to Chiang Rai from a controlled area must contact the village headman and community leader to organise village health volunteers. All of those who enter the province must follow Covid safety precautions with anyone violating the measures to be fined up to 20,000 baht under the Communicable Disease Act B.E. 2557.

Chiang Rai’s local officials have also voiced concern over Songkran, or the Thai new year festivities, and have banned water-splashing, foam parties, food catering and other types of close contact activities. Entertainment venues, pubs, karaoke, bars, and taverns are temporarily closed. And, other facilities like gyms, and tutoring companies are also ordered to limit visitors.

Health officials are also waiting for Covid-19 test results from 2 other people in Mae Sai district who returned from the same entertainment venues in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The news of another Covid outbreak has prompted the government to cancel the Songkran festivities in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Chiang Rai Province has received 5,000 doses of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine that will be administered to certain groups of people who are on the frontlines in areas of Muang Chiang Rai District and border areas in 7 districts: Mae Sai, Mae Chan, Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Saen, Chiang Khong, Wiang Kaen, and Thoeng. The government also plans to distribute 800,000 doses of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine to 22 provinces sometime in April.

But the vaccine’s effectiveness has come under scrutiny after Brazilian officials reported that the vaccine was only 50.4% effective in preventing Covid infections. That number is apparently quite low compared to what Sinovac Biotech quoted at 78%.

 

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Crime

Officials tracking down foreigners with fake IDs opening up illegal businesses in Chiang Rai

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Thai news site TNA is reporting that the Department of Special Investigation is investigating 255 foreigners who are allegedly in possession of fake Thai IDs in the Wiang Kaen district of Chiang Rai. The report also claims that they were operating illegal businesses.

One of the suspects is Chinese but carried a Thai ID saying that he was a Thai citizen “Apao Saesoen”. The man later registered a company to run a business reserved for Thai citizens. The DSI believe that the issuing of fake Thai IDs could affect national security. The Chinese man, whose real name is Wen Haomiao, is now being tracked down after the issue of an arrest warrant.

The origins of the other foreigners, reported as ‘aliens’ in the Thai media, were not made apparent in the article.

The DSI director-general says his department is working with the local Department of Provincial Administration as they track down the sources of the fake documents. So far the investigation is concentrated in the Wiang Kaen district, in the far east of the province, on the Laos border.

The provincial office is trying to find and revoke Thai ID cards earlier issued for 50 foreigners. 7 of them had already set up alleged fake Thai companies.

Fake Thai IDs and other documentation was readily available is various markets around the country, especially in touristy areas. But recent crackdowns have pushed the lucrative market underground although fake documentation remains a popular business in Thailand. Khao San Road was a hive of fake documentation until a crackdown in 2018 forced most of the illegal vendors off the streets.

SOURCE: TNA

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Border officials on alert for Burmese coup protesters fleeing military crackdown

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Wikimedia

Border police have increased patrols in the northern province of Chiang Rai amid concerns that Burmese protesters may try to cross into the Mae Sai district. This follows a military crackdown in the Burmese border town of Tachilek as the army tries to quell anti-coup rallies.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Sompong Chingduang from Thailand’s Immigration Bureau says the authorities in Mae Sai continue to monitor the situation in Tachilek. On Saturday, 2 protesters were killed in the Burmese city of Mandalay after officials opened fire on demonstrators protesting the February 1 coup.

The following day, thousands rallied in the town of Myawaddy, on the border of the Mae Sot district in the Thai province of Tak, while another protest was held in Tachilek. The Tachilek protest led to the border between Thailand and Myanmar being shut for 2 hours. It’s understood the largest rallies yet are being planned for today.

Meanwhile, Sompong has issued a warning that nobody fleeing the military crackdown in Myanmar will be granted entry to Thailand but will instead be turned away from the border. He says to do otherwise would pose too much of a health risk for Thailand, given the Covid-19 situation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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