As the team continues to recover in the Chiang Rai Prachanukro Hospital, the parents and guardians are now being given time with they kids. Here are some of the first details to emerge from some of the team members, as reported by Marisa Chimprabha…
Chanin ‘Titan’ Wibulrungrueng
Chanin Wibulrungrueng, one of the 13 Mu Pa Academy football club members who were trapped inside the cave, told his mother, Aikan, that the team wanted to go inside the cave after football practice. Their assistant coach, 25 year old Ekkapon Chantawong, joined the trip.
“My son had an extra tutorial class that day after practice. He told me when I visited him in the hospital that he planned to go into the cave for just an hour and go home,” Aikan said.
Chanin, nicknamed Titan, is the youngest of the 13 Mu Pa (Wild Boar) team members who were trapped inside the cave after a flash flood hit the area and the cave, blocking their exit.
Chanin was speaking to his mother through a glass partition at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital where the group was undergoing a medical check-up.
“While we were in the cave, there was heavy rain that resulted in fast and heavy flow of water,” he told his mother.
“Coach Ek told the boys to build a wall to block the water but to no avail because the water ran very strong and fast. This forced us to retreat deeper into the cave,” Chanin was quoted as saying.
Duangpetch ‘Dome’ Promthep
In a separate interview with Thai media, another rescued boy, 13 year old Duangpetch or Dome Promthep, echoed Chanin’s account, saying that he joined the others on the trip because it was to be a short visit.
He brought a small amount of snacks on the trip. “When they got stuck inside the cave, they had nothing to eat,” he told his 45 year old father Banphot who visited him at the hospital.
His statement contradicted an earlier report that the group planned a small birthday party for one of the boys, so they brought food and snacks. Those reports comforted people outside the cave who believed that they had something to eat during the ordeal.
He told his father that on the day they got trapped, everyone panicked but Coach Ek calmed them down and tried to find a way out. Duangpetch said that Ekkapon told the boys not to move and to stay still so that they would save their energy.
“If we were thirsty, Coach Ek told us to use a flashlight to find a hole where rainwater seeped in. So, we drank that water to survive. We did not know the days and nights because it was very dark inside the cave,” he said.
Chanin told his mother that on the first three nights, he was so hungry that he burst into tears. He only consumed rainwater that seeped into the cave through the roof of the cave.
“It was really cold inside the cave. He told Ekkapon that, so he hugged my boy until he slept,” according to Aikan.
It was difficult for the team to sleep on the ledge where they were stranded as it was so small, she said.
Chanin also said that Ekkapon told them not to move a lot to save their energy and meditate to stay calm and not panic.
Duangpetch, the captain of the football team, said that the group was staying on higher ground when the British divers discovered them. They ran down to ask for help when they saw the divers. The discovery was recorded by the divers’ helmet camera, footage that brought joy to their parents and a worldwide audience.
Banphot said his son lost about three to four kilograms during the ordeal and he asked for pork barbecue, Thai-styled noodle soup and a new phone to replace the old one he lost in the cave.
Aikan said she prepared sticky rice and grilled pork which are her son’s favourite food when he leaves the hospital.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: The Nation
Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border
The number of seizures of high-purity crystal methamphetamine are surging into northern Thailand. The demand rises and the methods of detection and enforcement also improve. It’s a vicious circle.
Authorities say the number of drug seizures have risen 1000% in just the past 2 years, a stark indication of the growth in industrial-scale production in neighboring Myanmar.
Some 18.4 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’, was seized in Thailand last year, according to preliminary statistics from the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board. They know it’s a tiny proportion of the amounts produced and shipped out undetected.
That figure is up from 5.2 tonnes in 2017 and 1.6 tonnes in 2016. It’s more than three times the amount captured across all of Southeast Asia five years ago – a staggering rise in production and distribution.
Thailand remains a major trafficking route for the artificial drug manufactured in Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states – the north-eastern states of Myanmar that border China, Laos and Thailand.
Police say organised crime groups work with local pro-government militias and armed rebels to set-up “super labs” and allow transport through the regions to borders beyond.
The same mega-labs are also pumping out ‘cocktail’ tablets of methamphetamine, mixed with caffeine and other ‘fillers’. The drug is nicknamed ‘yaba’ in Thailand. Specialist chemists and ‘cooks’ are brought in from Taiwan and China to run the meth labs in Myanmar, while the ingredients and lab equipment mostly come from China.
The methamphetamine tablets are a low-grade recreational drug, inexpensive and popular with blue-collar workers and low-end recreational drug users across South East Asia. The price for a ‘yaba’ pill has plummeted from around 200 baht to 80 baht in the past five years.
But the Golden Triangle, bordering north-eastern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, has a long history of illicit drug trafficking.
It came to the West’s notice as a cultivation hub for opium and heroin refining but those, now, easily detected crops are being replaced with methamphetamine production. The factories are easily hidden underneath the jungle canopy, and with the assistance of ‘co-operative’ local authorities, armed gangs and state-sponsored militias, the precursor drugs and final product move in and out with little trouble.
Once the drugs have made their way through Thailand the drug syndicates use “motherships” that intercept the drugs off the Andaman coast and distribute them to other parts of South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Whilst the growth in production and purity of the drugs is alarming authorities, they are also intercepting and detecting a lot more of the road shipments making their way across the Thai borders. But they readily admit they are only netting a tiny part of the larger iceberg.
Despite the frequent showcasing of large drug hauls by Thai police, the vast majority of the drugs coming out of the back-doors of Myanmar’s meth labs are getting through undetected.
Tham Luang caves closing for retrieval of all rescue equipment
Chiang Rai’s Tham Luang caves, the scene of the international cave rescue last July, will close to all visitors from February 19 to allow Thai Navy SEALs to enter and recover equipment left in the cave after the rescue mission.
The mission, which captured the attention of media around the world and changed the young men’s lives forever, extracted 13 members of the local Mu Pa youth football team who became trapped by flooding last July when they headed there for a post-training one hour excursion.
Mr. Kavee Prasomphol, chief of the Tham Luang-Khunnam Nangnon national park in Mae Sai district, says the closure of the cave would also allow naval officers to document the scene inside the cave. The areas surrounding the cave remain open to the public.
On January 17, 2019, a SEAL team and rescue workers, including British cave diver Vernon Unsworth and park officials, inspected the cave’s interior and found a large quantity of abandoned oxygen tanks, pumps and other equipment.
They entered the cave system only as far as the third chamber, but have not yet reached the location where the footballers took refuge for more than two weeks.
Enjoy The Thaiger’s dedication to the rescuers and volunteers who found and retrieved the football team…
Missing Chiang Rai mother found safe in Kunming after 8 months
A missing 59 year old Thai woman, reportedly suffering from Alzheimers, has been found in Kunming, China’s Yunnan province, about 700 kilometres from her home in Thailand.
She was reported missing from the northern province of Chiang Rai eight months ago.
Kunming police found the woman, Kaewmanee Arjor, walking alone on a highway and alerted Thai officials in the Chinese city.
Kaewmanee’s daughter, Suchada, was accompanied by Chiang Rai officials, and flew to Kunming to be reunited with her mother yesterday. They are expected to be back to Chiang Rai today.
Initial questioning of Mrs. Kaewmanee indicates that she walked from her home in Chiang Rai to Kunming. It is not currently known how she survived but she appears to be healthy and could communicate with her daughter but was unable to offer details of her journey.
The Chinese police, who arranged accommodation for Mrs. Kaewmanee while Thai officials arranged her repatriation, were thanked by the family and Thai police.
The family say they were impressed with the kindness shown by the Chinese police and the humanity of the Thai immigration police in paying for the return of their mother.
STORY: Thai PBS
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