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

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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 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 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 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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