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Chiang Rai

Ekkapol Chanthawong – Parents are refusing to blame him

The Thaiger

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Ekkapol Chanthawong – Parents are refusing to blame him | The Thaiger

PHOTO: From video of Thai Navy Seals Facebook page

Eight out, five to go. But Ekkapol Chanthawong, the assistant football coach of the Mu Pa team, trapped in Tham Luang cave since June 23, is being credited with keeping his young team alive during their ordeal. He’s 25, the rest of the young team are between 11 and 16 years of age.

Thai media, ever searching for the dramatic, has been in a lather over whether he deserves praise or is the devil in the story. Some media want to blame him for the team’s predicament as he led the 12 football players on an excursion into the caves after scheduled training on Saturday, June 23. They’d been there before.

A torrential downpour, and subsequent flood waters flowing into the caves, forced them deeper into the bowels of the Chiang Rai mountains.

But parents and guardians of the teenagers who were under his charged will hear nothing of the criticism. They are refusing to blame the young man.

Ekkapol Chanthawong - Parents are refusing to blame him | News by The Thaiger

Ekkapol, or “Ake”, was orphaned at 10 years of age and, by all accounts, had a rough time growing up. Firstly his seven year old brother died, then his mother and his father a year later. A disease swept through his village and ravaged many families.

His Aunt recounted to an Australian newspaper that he was then sent to a Buddhist temple for care and his education. She says her nephew is a “merciful man” who would do anything to assist others. She says he was devoted to his young team who were, in some cases, separated from their families or caught between the Burmese and Thai cultures (the Mu Pa team all live right on the border between Thailand and Myanmar). Some of them are regarded as ‘stateless’, a fact of life for many of the youngsters in this border region.

‘The Washington Post’ reports that Ekkapol left the temple to care for his ailing grandmother in Mae Sai in northern Thailand, the location of the Tham Luang caves. He spent his time working at the local temple and training the new Mu Pa (Wild Boars) football team.

The first two English divers say that when they finally found the team they were all meditating together.

The young team members told rescuers that Ake taught them how to meditate in an effort to help preserve their energy, control their breathing and not to panic.

‘The Australian’ quotes the Aunt… “I know he would be keeping the boys calm and happy. He loves those boys very much because he lost his father when he was very young.”

Ekkapol Chanthawong - Parents are refusing to blame him | News by The Thaiger

A friend of Ake says that he doesn’t drink or smoke and that he was the kind of person who took care of himself and was a good example to the rest of his team.

One of Ake’s friends at the temple said, “I know him, and I know he will blame himself.”

Rescuers have said that Ekkapol (pronounced EKK-A-PON) is the weakest out of the whole group. They say that he was giving the trapped team members his share of the limited food and water resources they had with them. He taught them to meditate, relax and conserve their energy until they were found. He also got them to drink water from the walls instead of the rushing muddy waters flowing around them.

In an interview with Thai TV, the mother of one of the trapped, Pornchai Khamluang, said… “If he didn’t go with them, what would have happened to my child? When he comes out, we have to heal his heart. My dear Ake, I would never blame you.”

On Saturday some hand-scribbled notes were brought out of the cave by the rescue teams during their preparation for the rescue that started on Sunday morning.

Ake wrote this note to parents of the trapped children…
“To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crews are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologise to the parents.”

And to his own aunt and grandmother…
“To my aunt and grandmother, I am doing well, please don’t be too worried about me. Take care of yourselves. Aunt. Please tell grandmother to make vegetable dip and pork rind. Once I’m out, I’ll go eat. Love everyone.”

Ekkapol Chanthawong - Parents are refusing to blame him | News by The Thaiger



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Chiang Rai

Australian Tham Luang cave divers receive prestigious Thai awards

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Australian Tham Luang cave divers receive prestigious Thai awards | The Thaiger

Australian cave divers Dr Richard Harris and Dr Craig Challen have been conferred the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn at a ceremony in Bangkok, for their crucial role in the Tham Luang cave rescue.

The pair received the honour in a ceremony at Government House in Bangkok on Friday afternoon, before meeting with the PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

“It’s very exciting, it’s great to be back,” Dr Harris said.

“We had no idea at the time of the rescue that this was going to be such a big story.”

Drs Harris and Challen have returned to Thailand for the first time since their crucial contribution to the rescue of the 13 young footballers from the Tham Luang cave site in Chiang Rai almost a year ago.

Drs Harris and Challen were also in January jointly named Australians of the Year – one of the country’s highest honours.

The pair will now travel to Chiang Rai to return to the Tham Luang cave site and meet with the MU Pa football team and their families tomorrow (Monday).

“That’s really exciting for us to go and see them and make sure they’re well and see how they’re doing after the rescue,” Dr Harris said.

Australian Tham Luang cave divers receive prestigious Thai awards | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Severe localised storms predicted for central, north and north-east until April 16

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Severe localised storms predicted for central, north and north-east until April 16 | The Thaiger

FILE PHOTO

The meteorological office (TMD) says there could be localised severe thunder storms for the entire upper area of the country until Tuesday.

The north, north-east, eastern seaboard and central regions, including Bangkok and surrounding areas could all be randomly hit by tropical thunderstorms.

The TMD office director Phuwiang Prakhammin has warned of rain storms, thunder and lightning, high winds and even hail.

“People were warned to avoid open spaces, not to stand under trees as it is a lightning strike hazard and be careful of unstable advertising hoardings.”

Farmers have also been warned about protecting their livestock and crops in the agriculture-heavy northeastern provinces. Here are the provinces that may be affected…

Northeast: Bueng Kan, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Yasothon Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani

Northern region: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phrae, Nan, Lampang, Tak, Sukhothai, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Phet, Phichit and Phetchabun

Central: Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Suphanburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, and Bangkok.

East: Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo, Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat

SOURCE: Daily News

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Air Pollution

Forest fires destroy 2.7 million rai of land whilst Chiang Mai is back on top

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Forest fires destroy 2.7 million rai of land whilst Chiang Mai is back on top | The Thaiger

by Tossapol Boonpat

Bush fires have devastated nearly 2.7 million rai (there are 2.5 Rai in an Acre) of forests in nine northern provinces.

The Mae Hong Son forest fire and haze control centre says that satellite imaging from the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency shows that from January 1 to March 16, 2,680,634 rai was destroyed by wildfires.

The devastation included 102,268 rai in Chiang Rai, 374,313 rai in Chiang Mai, 791,301 rai in Tak, 221,300 rai in Nan, 150,995 rai in Phayao, 176,107 rai in Phrae, 203,889 rai in Mae Hong Son, 470,009 rai in Lampang and 190,452 rai in Lamphun.

As of yesterday, the daily satellite image showed Mae Hong Son had 124 hotspots (10 in Pang Mapha, 17 in Pai, 30 in Muang, 16 in Khun Yuam, three in Mae La Noi, 26 in Mae Sariang and 22 in Sop Moei districts).

But a source from the Royal Forest Department says people should not be overly alarmed by such high figures, as the wildfires had swept through dried, flammable materials on the floors of the forests, and most trees will once again start producing new leaves.  The source said the fires had also thinned the hard shells of pods, so when the rains come, seedlings can sprout faster.

Unhealthy levels of smog were again recorded in the nine northern provinces and one province in the Central region, with Chiang Mai once again reaching the dubious honour as the world’s Number One worst polluted city.

Pralong Damrongthai, PCD director-general, said hazardous levels of air pollution were detected in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phayao, Phrae and Tak provinces, as well as in the Central province of Nakhon Sawan.

Forest fires destroy 2.7 million rai of land whilst Chiang Mai is back on top | News by The Thaiger Forest fires destroy 2.7 million rai of land whilst Chiang Mai is back on top | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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