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

The Thaiger & The Nation

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

25 arrests as police shut down online gambling sites

Maya Taylor

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25 arrests as police shut down online gambling sites | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Pattaya News

25 Thai nationals have been arrested after investigators uncovered 6 online gambling websites run by a gang with funds running into millions of baht. The Pattaya News reports that arrests have taken place in the northern city of Chiang Rai and in Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok. It’s understood officers have been tracking the websites for several months.

The first arrests, in Chiang Rai, apprehended a 30 year old man and his 25 year old associate, who it’s believed were running the operation, in addition to 22 others working for them. 40 phones and 8 computers were also confiscated during the raid and arrests. The subsequent questioning of the people they arrested led police to a female website administrator in Nonthaburi. She is accused of getting gamblers to pay money into the company’s bank accounts. A further 14 mobile phones and 4 laptops were seized during her arrest as evidence in the case.

The suspects are currently being held in Bangkok and have been charged with organising, advertising, and encouraging illegal gambling. The investigation is ongoing.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Air Pollution

PM to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze… again

Caitlin Ashworth

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

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

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Chiang Rai

2 Burmese nationals arrested while crossing river into Thailand

Maya Taylor

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2 Burmese nationals arrested while crossing river into Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.orientalescape.com

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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