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Chiang Rai

Options and opportunities – getting the football team out of the caves

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Options and opportunities – getting the football team out of the caves | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: The Nation/Thai Navy Seals Facebook Page

“…all of them are in the good hands of seven Navy SEALs, who will be with them and take care of them all the time.”

Authorities are mulling whether they should wait for water levels to subside, which could take a long time, or use divers to bring the footballers out in a risky evacuation before rains return.

Rescue crews are now set to carry out the daunting task of bringing the 13 stranded footballers out of the Tham Luang cave via the partially flooded passage, as that remains the only way out. Exploration for alternate ways could take too much time amid the forecast of more downpours, making it likely that the 12 young footballers and their coach would be evacuated today.

“If heavy downpours resume, floodwater in the cave will definitely rise. So, it is necessary that we get the victims out first,” Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said yesterday.

At present, the victims have been given minerals, food, water, and lighting. A doctor, a nurse, and Navy SEALs are now keeping them company. Despite the urgency, the trapped footballers may have to stay inside the cave for months until they are strong enough to travel out of the cave, Navy SEALs commander Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yukongkaew said. Arpakorn stated that he could not answer how long the team will have to stay inside the cave, as it depended on the state of readiness of each boy.

“Everyone can be relieved now, as all of them are in the good hands of seven Navy SEALs, who will be with them and take care of them all the time,” he said.

“Two of the Navy SEALs are medical practitioners with expertise in this task, while there will be constant food and medicine provided to the trapped footballers and a communication line to the outside world set up.”

Options and opportunities - getting the football team out of the caves | News by The Thaiger

He also asked the public not to be concerned about the level of floodwater while the boys are still inside the cave, as their location is safe and high enough to protect them from floodwater. His opinion was at odds with Anupong who seemed bent on pushing ahead with the operation to get the stranded team out. One of the contingency plans is to have two professional divers take care of each of the kids on their way out of the complicated cave network. Anupong admitted that this option was risky because diving in such a condition is highly challenging due to the narrow passage and negative factors including darkness.

The minister said the authorities would weigh the pros and cons of the action plan as suggested by rescue experts before making the final decision. However, as it is not possible to pump all water out of some sections of the route due to their depth, authorities are considering training the children to dive.

According to a tentative action plan, two of the three phases of the rescue have already taken place. In the first phase, a group of four SEAL divers and rescue experts with survival kits and food will return and stay with the group for an unspecified period. During this time, the experts will also conduct an additional structural survey of the site to ensure safety. In the second phase, a doctor and other experts will join the group to do medical and related check-ups of all 13 persons and adjust their living conditions. In the third phase, more food will be supplied and there will be diving sessions for the boys while authorities continue to pump more water out of the cave network.

Options and opportunities - getting the football team out of the caves | News by The Thaiger

Externally, authorities have also stepped up efforts to divert water from fresh rains in other directions to minimise flooding inside the cave network. Another option is to find a natural opening or drill an entry point near where the 13 persons have been stranded to get them out of the cave network through the roof. Dr Suttisak Soralump of Kasetsart University, a geo-technical engineer, said his team had earlier drilled an exploratory hole in the cave network to help find natural openings near the site where the team is trapped.

The external drilling point is about 1,200 metres above sea level while Pattaya Beach, which is near where the team is located, is about 500 metres above sea level.

Bill Whitehouse, vice chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, was quoted by CNN as suggesting that there are significant technical challenges and risks regarding the option to dive the kids out of the cave network. Narrow passageways along the route could lead to serious complications during the rescue, he said.

Options and opportunities - getting the football team out of the caves | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation



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Chiang Rai

Thai troops kill four drug couriers and seize large haul of ketamine

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Thai troops kill four drug couriers and seize large haul of ketamine | The Thaiger

Thai troops have shot and killed four alleged drug couriers and seized more than 300 kilograms of ketamine. The incident happened last night in a corn plantation near a bordering river in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai.

Acting on a tip-off that the drugs were to be smuggled from Myanmar for delivery to a Thai customer in Ban Pa Daeng in Tambon Koh Chang, Mae Sai district, troops from the Pa Muang Task Force were sent to the area.

Thai PBS reports that at around 9pm, about 30 people carrying bags on their backs were spotted wading across the shallow Ruak River on the border with Myanmar. Once on Thai soil, the troops emerged from their hideout and ordered the intruders to stop, only to be fired upon by the armed guards protecting the drug caravan.

The troops returned fire in a firefight which lasted about 10 minutes. For safety, the troops then waited until dawn before searching the area. They found four dead bodies and seventeen bags containing about 340 kilograms of ketamine.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Air Pollution

Thai government desperately needs a ‘clean air act’

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Thai government desperately needs a ‘clean air act’ | The Thaiger

by Pratch Rujivanarom

Environment campaigners are urging the government to approve a clean-air act to solve the country’s chronic smog problem and honour citizens’ right to breathe clean air.

Dr Wirun Limsawart, a policy analyst at the Society and Health Institute and member of the Clean Air Network Thailand, said at a press conference there was no more time for debate over the fact of the seasonal smog problem.

“Everyone must work together, addressing all aspects of what has become a serious threat to public health and social justice. Everyone should get involved in devising sustainable solutions.”

The Clean Air Network released a “Clean Air White Paper” as a handbook for use by the general public containing information about PM2.5 particulate matter and related issues.

Thai government desperately needs a 'clean air act' | News by The Thaiger

Wirun said the prolonged and severe PM2.5 pollution afflicting many parts of Thailand during the current dry season, especially Metropolitan Bangkok and the North, had left citizens suffering serious but preventable health impacts.

“The seasonal PM2.5 smog is a very significant problem, not only harming people’s health and wellbeing, but along with the authorities’ ineffectiveness in preventing and controlling the smog, worsening injustice in our society,” he said.

He said the problem became so dire this year partly because of the authorities’ failure to cope, so he called on the government to set out sustainable measures such as enacting a Clean Air Act and establishing a central environmental-protection agency.

“The primary reasons the authorities’ efforts are unsuccessful are the lack of a holistic approach in taking such measures, unclear and inefficient environmental-law enforcement, and the authorities’ bias by which economic development is given higher priority than environmental protection,” Wirun said.

“Unless we solve these structural issues, establish official smog-mitigation measures, improve law enforcement and come out with a Clean Air Act to use as a legal tool to safeguard the right to live in a healthy environment, we will fail to protect public health and Thailand will soon become a sickly society.”

Wirun said poor public understanding of PM2.5 was another major issue that needed to be tackled.

“The nature of the smog problem, the characteristics and health threats of PM2.5, air-quality measurements, the air-quality index and the pollution warning system can be quite confusing.”

SOURCE: The Nation

Thai government desperately needs a 'clean air act' | News by The Thaiger

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Chiang Rai

Tham Luang caves to be properly explored and mapped

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Tham Luang caves to be properly explored and mapped | The Thaiger

Local and foreign cave experts have been mapping the Tham Luang-Khunnam Nang Non cave, in the Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, to create the first detailed map of the cave complex. The mapping follows confusion during the rescue, and mentioned last week by Vernon Unsworth, over the exact location where the boys were found.

Mr. Chaiporn Siripornpaibul says the project will take about two years and is intended to discover more information about the cave system, including detailed mapping of the complex, to be used for proper and efficient management of the cave for environmental, ecological and tourism purposes.

Thai PBS reports that, after Tham Luang, he said 20 more of Thailand’s over 5,000 caves would be explored for similar purposes.

Tham Luang-Khunnam Nang Non cave shot to worldwide fame  in June last year when a massive international operation was mounted to rescue 12 young footballers and their coach trapped about 4 kilometres inside the flooded cave. The successful mission involved more than 10,000 people, including over 100 specialty divers from other countries and hundreds of professional rescue workers.

Mr. Chaiporn said that, although the cave exploration project would last two years, actual exploration would be restricted by flooding during the monsoon season, which normally starts in June and lasts until almost year’s end. He explained that Tham Luang cave sits on the path of a main water way which flows into the cave, rendering exploration impossible at times.

The cave system is about 10 kilometres long, but the team plans to explore up to the Nom Sao elevated grounds, or Pattaya Beach, about 2.2km from the cave entrance.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jongklai Worapongsathorn, deputy director-general of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said that this exploration would provide some answers which could lead to more efficient cave management.

As well as British cave diving expert Vernon Unsworth and others, Mr. Jongklai said the exploration team has received support from National Geographic magazine which has loaned the team its three-dimensional laser scanner for use in cave mapping.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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