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Chiang Rai: Day Eight – full speed ahead to the middle of the caves

The Thaiger & The Nation



Chiang Rai: Day Eight – full speed ahead to the middle of the caves | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Practice drills to maximise the evacuation speeds when the missing team is found/The Naiton

Day Eight: Saturday’s search milestones were the most significant to date with the rains easing, the floodwaters being removed and inroads into many sections of the cave from all sides of the mountain.

Support teams outside the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai were yesterday waiting eagerly for a signal from the team searching for 12 teen footballers and their assistant coach who have been trapped inside the flooded cave since last Saturday, June 23.

Narongsak Osoththanakorn, governor of the northern province, says that the search team was highly hopeful yesterday after all the positive developments in the large-scale rescue operation. The positive developments yesterday included success in being able to pump a large amount of water out of the cave, enabling the team of Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land Teams) divers to move closer to the so-called “Pattaya Beach” section where the missing are believed to be waiting for rescue, the governor said.

Work continued on a number of fronts, all night, and is expected to continue all day today.

Chiang Rai: Day Eight - full speed ahead to the middle of the caves | News by The Thaiger

He said other units were in full readiness to bring the missing footballers out of the cave. They are just waiting for a signal from the search team.The SEAL divers had nearly reached a T-junction in the depths of the cave just two or three kilometres from where the boys are believed to be, the governor said.

Water levels inside the complex labyrinth of tunnels finally dropped thanks to dozens of pumps set up to drain the pools, even as heavy rain continued to pound the area near the Myanmar and Laos borders.

“The situation is better today than yesterday and the day before. The water level has receded considerably and we are pumping out water in all the chambers,” he told reporters.

Medical teams staged drills yesterday morning to prepare for possible rescue, amid worries about how the boys might be pulled out of the cave if and when they are found. Ambulances and helicopters were on standby for the drills at the bustling rescue site. The Chiang Rai governor said the evacuation drill found several obstacles that needed to be tackled when the actual evacuation takes place. He said one issue was the lack of cooperation of people who would not move their vehicles for the road to be cleared. He said the order of ambulances and the evacuation of the rescued persons in various steps also needed to be improved. Video footage of all the steps were taken to work on how the process could be improved.

Chiang Rai: Day Eight - full speed ahead to the middle of the caves | News by The Thaiger

The Governor is urging onlookers to refrain from Facebook Live coverage of the scene, as they could obstruct the work of the authorities. He added that there are now more than 10 diving robots and diving drones at the site but they could not be operated because the cave is dark and the water too murky for the controllers to see anything. He’s also asking officials from various teams to refrain from talking to the media about the operations of other teams. He said if any official has any recommendation, he or she should talk to other teams directly or else the comments could be seen as criticism of other teams.

In the afternoon, the water level in the cave subsided a lot and 16 Navy SEAL divers surveyed Chamber 3. At 1pm, the divers were in the process of extending a rope and a phone line to the three-way intersection that straddles Pattaya Beach and the right passage of the cave.

The Navy’s SEALs plan to set up a forward command at the cave’s T-junction before sending divers to Pattaya Beach. Divers from the Navy SEALs reached the third chamber from Tham Luang cave’s entrance before noon yesterday after rains stopped and water was drained from the cave up to a level.

The Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page reported the progress of the operation, in which divers and Army troops helped move water pumps into the cave to drain water in the morning. The water drained very quickly, the page reported. When the water was drained up to a level, the SEAL divers managed to enter the third chamber. They carried oxygen tanks with them to set up the forward command. Rains over the cave have stopped since 4am and officials stepped up efforts to drain water from the cave’s entrance.

Five helicopters airlifted a team of Border Patrol policemen yesterday morning to resume search of a shaft over the cave. The team planned to climb down the 60 metre deep shaft from Pha Mee Mountain to try to reach three chambers on the side of the cave where the missing youngsters may have been trapped, deputy police commissioner-general Pol General Veerachai Songmetta said.

On Friday, the police had reached the bottom of the shaft but had not entered an opening believed to be connected to the chambers, said Veerachai, who heads the team. The Border Patrol policemen are now equipped with wireless communication tools that would feed their pictures back live to the top of the mountain, where Veerachai was based, for analysis.

Meanwhile, a senior rescue official complained about the wastage of time caused by the lack of adequate coordination between several teams exploring shafts over the Tham Lung cave. Lerpong Suansang, head of a search team of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, said there were several teams searching for shafts that could offer a passage to chambers in the cave where it is believed the 13 member football team could have been trapped. He said several shafts had been searched and that they only led to a dead-end. Due to lack of coordination, other teams also ended up searching the same shafts, assuming them to be new discoveries.

Chiang Rai: Day Eight - full speed ahead to the middle of the caves | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Air Pollution

PM to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze… again

Caitlin Ashworth



PM to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze… again | The Thaiger

The Thai prime minister says he’s working on a plan to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze problem by cutting back manmade bushfires known to largely contribute to the air pollution. The issue has been broadly covered in Thai and foreign media for years, and been followed up with ministerial visits, promises, and little else.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke with governors of 17 northern provinces affected by seasonal haze, saying that he plans to supply villagers and local organisations with equipment, but reports did not go into much detail about what tools locals would get. He says authorities and state agencies need to step in to help combat the haze problem, suggesting that provincial governors head the local fight against wildfires.

“It’s important to eradicate the root cause of wildfires that result from villagers’ way of life… Even more farming space should be provided to farmers who need it to protect natural resources from being destroyed.”

Prayut added that it’s important for state agencies to collaborate on the firefighting effort and said members of the public can help raise awareness about wildfires.

The annual haze/smoke/air pollution problem is not just a Thai issue with the neighbouring countries, particularly Myanmar, causing their fair share of the illegal plantation fires, as shown in sharp detail in the satellite images.

Read The Thaiger’s take on the annual ‘smoke’ problem HERE.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

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Chiang Rai

2 Burmese nationals arrested while crossing river into Thailand

Maya Taylor



2 Burmese nationals arrested while crossing river into Thailand | The Thaiger

Border forces have arrested 2 Burmese nationals as they were crossing a river in the northern province of Chiang Rai in an attempt to enter Thailand. There has been an increase in security patrols along the border with Myanmar in recent weeks, as the country experiences a spike in Covid-19 cases. There have been reports of Burmese nationals attempting to enter Thailand without submitting to any of the Covid-19 measures currently in place, including testing and mandatory quarantine.

The latest arrests are of a 20 year old man named only as Saiunkaew, and 30 year old Sailu. Both men were detained while crossing the Mae Sai river, in the Koh Chang sub-district of Chiang Rai.

2 Burmese nationals arrested while crossing river into Thailand | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Saiunkaew says he travelled from Myanmar’s Shan state and claims he was on his way to study at Chiang Mai’s Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya University. He says he paid 4,000 baht to an agency in his home country to facilitate his border crossing. Sailu says he was hoping to find work in Thailand, adding that he paid 17,400 baht to Burmese border officials in order to allow him cross. Both men are now being processed by Chiang Rai Immigration, after which they will be deported to Myanmar.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Immigration announce the arrest of 18 Chinese illegal migrants in Chiang Rai

Jack Burton



Immigration announce the arrest of 18 Chinese illegal migrants in Chiang Rai | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: 77kaoded

Immigration officers yesterday announced the arrest of 18 undocumented Chinese immigrants Chiang Rai on August 2, who reportedly attempted to cross the Mekong River from Laos to enter the kingdom illegally. A team of investigating officers from the Chiang Saen Immigration Checkpoint was patrolled the Mekong River area after receiving a tip that a group of unlawful migrants would be smuggled from Ton Pheung District in northwestern Laos via boat.

The 18 were caught as they reached a riverbank behind a restaurant in the Chiang Saen district around 5:50pm August 2. They were brought to Chiang Saen Police Station for an initial interrogation and to arrange a translator, since none of the group any travel documents.

They were initially charged with entering the Kingdom of Thailand without permission and failing to comply with the Disease Control Act, according to an announcement. That order requires that all potential immigrants go through proper channels to enter the country and enter a mandatory 14 day quarantine, amoong other rules and regulations. The commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, told the Thai Associated Press:

“The public health officers did an initial temperature test on all the immigrants and none of them showed a sign of Covid-19 coronavirus infection. The group did not have exposure to the general public as they were caught swiftly.”

“They were detained at the Chiang Saen police station for legal proceedings. Meanwhile, investigators were checking their mobile data and usage of their mobile phones as they might contain useful information regarding people who may have contributed to this trafficking or lead to further investigation.”

Thailand has been cracking down on illegal border crossings and encouraging residents of border towns to report any strangers. Thailand has officially gone 86 days with no confirmed locally transmitted cases of Covid-19, but has identified the danger of illegal immigrants importing the virus from elsewhere as the biggest potential roadblock to staying free of the disease. International borders remain closed for general tourists and only small, select groups of foreigners are currently allowed to enter the country.

It’s unclear why the group were trying to enter Thailand or where they were originally from in China.

Immigration announce the arrest of 18 Chinese illegal migrants in Chiang Rai | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: The Pattaya News | 77kaoded

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