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The one hour expedition that lasted three weeks

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The 12 Mu Pa teenage footballers and their coach planned visit the Tham Luang caves on June 23. They arrived around 4pm and ventured inside with a plan to spend about an hour exploring. They were meant to be out by 5 pm.

18 days later the last of them emerged after a ‘miraculous’ (their words) rescue involving hundreds of highly skilled divers and specialist cave-divers.

Last night they shared some of their stories in a controlled, but candid, exchange with media. They shared the stage with the Thai doctor who stayed with them from the day they were found until the last footballer had been sent back to the entrance to the cave. There was also three Thai Navy Seals disguised with ‘gangster’ dark sunglasses, the new Chiang Rai Governor, supervising Doctor from the Chiang Rai hospital and two child psychologists sharing the stage with them.

They started by entering the room kicking around a few soccer balls and meeting up with their other team mates from school and the Mu Pa Football Academy. The team unanimously credited the leadership of their 25 year coach Ekkaphol Chanthawong or ‘Aek’ with helping them get through the ordeal.

The young survivors gave vivid accounts of their trip to the cave, how they ended up trapped by sudden flooding and the crucial role played by their older coach in maintaining their positive mind-set and hope despite their predicament.

They recounted how they managed without foods for 10 days and how they were drinking water dripping from the cave walls. They ended up waiting on a dry ledge at the spot known as Nern Nomsao before they were discovered by a team of British divers.

Aek, speaking calmly and showing a maturity belying his 25 years, said they didn’t take any food into the cave because they only intended to be there for an hour and depart before 5 pm. He said he had to bring Titan to an evening class. Earlier media reporting speculated that the team went inside the cave to celebrate the birthday of one of the other team members was incorrect.

Aek was the one who tried to swim out of the flooded tunnel through which they had entered but had to retreat back inside because the tunnel was already fully flooded.

The team spoke about trying to find alternative routes deeper into the cave in attempts to get out, but finally gave up the idea, fearing that it might lead them to an even more perilous situation. Finally, they decided to shelter at the Nern Nomsao ledge which is about 400 metres from the other raised ‘beach’ area called Pattaya Beach.

The one hour expedition that lasted three weeks | News by The Thaiger

The team related stories how they took turns using stones to dig holes in the cave and Thai Navy Seals confirmed that they’d managed to dig as deep as 4 metres at one spot. The boys said they would fill their stomachs with water before climbing up the ledge to continue smashing the cave wall.

Thai PBS reports that it was the boys and their coach who decided which of them would be extracted first, not the SEALs or the rescue co-ordinators.

“We decided that the ones whose houses are far away from the cave should leave first. They should go home on the bikes as quickly as possible to tell their families what happened and to get help,” said Aek. The team obviously had no idea at all about the commotion happening outside the cave.

Just about all of the young survivors said that they would study hard, try to join the Navy SEAL or wanted to become professional soccer players. The English-speaking 14 year old Adul, a leading sportspersons and student at his school (and almost as tall as his 25 year old coach), described the team’s surprise when they were discovered. He says some members heard some talking so Coach Aek told them all to be quiet. They went straight down to the water and surprised the divers with their ‘Hello’.

What followed is surely to be made into books, documentaries, Hollywood and Thai movies.

The boys say they never gave up hope of seeing the light of the day again but considered their rescue to be nothing short of a miracle.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak

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2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Border crossing at Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand

2 more people have been confirmed as infected with Covid-19in the current mini-outbreak in Northern Thailand. In this case both women had crossed the Thai/Myanmar border and worked at the same bar in Myanmar as the original patient, feared to be a potential super-spreader. The 29 year old is now being treated at a hospital in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Rai public health officials report that the women, aged 23 and 26, illegally crossed the Burmese border at Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, from Tachileik, a border town on the Burmese side of the border, last Thursday night.

All 3 went to work in Tachileik last month, but returned to Thailand after Burmese health authorities imposed a curfew from midnight to 4am. There has been between 1,300 and 1,700 cases announced each day over the past week in Myanmar.

2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak | News by The Thaiger

Thai public health officials say the new cases in Chiang Rai didn’t visit other public places, but stayed in a local hotel and ordered in food on delivery apps.

“We are less worried about the situation in Chiang Rai because they did not go out,” he said.

One of Patient Zero’s friends, the 26 year old, decided to get tested on Saturday after the news of her friend’s positive test result. Authorities then ordered her 23 year old friend to have a test as well. Both tested positive to Covid-19. Another 4 people have since been identified as “high risk” and are all being tested today. When added to the food delivery and hotel staff, the amount of people considered “at risk” could be up to 30.

Meanwhile, the Pattaya Mail is reporting that 2 of the women were arrested in Mae Sai and another 2 were arrested on a bus headed to Pattaya, via Bangkok.

Authorities say they will ramp up the border patrols but expect to see more infections coming from the original case in the next few days. Thailand’s border with Myanmar is more than 2,000 kilometres long, mostly inaccessible mountainous or forest terrain.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak | News by The Thaiger

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Chiang Rai

Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The entrance to the real Tham Luang cave near the Myanmar border in far north Thailand

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million to Imagine Entertainment and film giant MGM to shoot a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story. The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vince Code, Cocoon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Splash, Frost/Nixon), and start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate.

The Australian Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, says the production should inject more than A$96 million into the Australian economy, “directly creating around 435 jobs for cast and crew”.

Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue. And I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia.”

“I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies.”

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, far north Thailand. After the team was stuck for days with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a group of diving and rescue experts from all over the world were called up to work together with their Thai counterparts to save the 13 young men. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ron Howard has worked with plenty of Australians in the past.

“From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”

Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s Thirteen Lives will be distributed by Universal Pictures International.

Watch a message from director Ron Howard HERE.

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Tham Luang exhibition opens in Chiang Rai, including a replica of part of the cave – VIDEO

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Tham Luang exhibition opens in Chiang Rai, including a replica of part of the cave – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: Chiang Rai Times

A replica of parts of the Tham Luang Cave has been opened for visitors to learn more about the famous cave rescue and experience some of the difficulties faced by rescuers in a replica of parts of the cave, well 30 metres of it anyway.

The exhibition attempts to simulate some of the key incidents that happened during the cave rescue after 13 members of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team were trapped inside from June 23 to July 10 in 2018. The rescue became a huge international story and a new Netflix documentary series releases shortly, including interviews with the 13 young men recalling the stories of the challenges and their fears during the ordeal.

After eventually finding the team members, no mean feat in itself, and international team of divers and Thai Navy Seals came up with a risky plan to extract the entire team, one by one, in a daring 3 day operation. 2 Australian doctors trained the rescuers to administer sedation as the young men were individually brought out of the caves, much of it underwater, through narrow, muddy, winding passageways.

Relive the tense moments of the sage HERE.

If the link doesn’t work on you browser, clickhttps://youtu.be/eYWRD6LbllY

 

The new exhibit recreates moments in the drama with photographs, mannequins and a 30 metre replica section of the Chiang Rai cave network. The Thai government has tightly managed access to the 13 young men since they were rescued from the cave Only one feature film has so far been released and a new Netflix documentary series comes out soon.

The cave itself reopened last year and brought out droves of tourists who wanted to visit the site. Souvenir shops selling trinkets, framed photos of the “Wild Boars” team and t-shirts have also popped up in the park as more curious sightseers explore the area.

Chiang Rai’s governor plans to propose the Tham Luang, Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park as an ASEAN Heritage Park, as the park has geological and biological distinction.

Tham Luang exhibition opens in Chiang Rai, including a replica of part of the cave - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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