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“We only intended to visit the cave for an hour” – Mu Pa 13

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“We only intended to visit the cave for an hour” – Mu Pa 13 | The Thaiger
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PHOTOS: The Nation

The Mu Pa Academy team and their assistant coach yesterday fronted the media as a group for the first and last time last night in Chiang Rai in a carefully staged media event. Questions from local and international media were carefully vetted before being addressed to the team members who, all dressed in match team T Shirts, appeared very relaxed and at ease.

The group also expressed their gratitude to Lt-Commander Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, who lost his life during the marathon operation to extricate the team from the cave. Assistant coach Ekkapol ‘Ek’ Chantawong said that he and the boys were upset and saddened when they learned of the death of diver Saman as he replenished air tanks for the mission. They expressed their gratitude and condolences by writing messages on a portrait of Saman, promising to grow up to be good persons.

Reflecting on how they were found 10 days after being trapped by flash floods in the cave, 14 year old Adul Samon, said Ekkapol heard the sounds of people talking. Ekkapol told the boys to stop talking and stay quiet so that he could verify the source of the sound. The boys then sat still. Adul said he told another boy, nicknamed Nick, to go down the ledge to examine the sound because Nick had a flashlight. But when Nick was slow, Adul says he grabbed the flashlight and that was when his eyes fell on the British divers.

“They were talking to each other when I saw them. At first I thought they were Thais but when I saw that they were foreigners, I said ‘hello’ to them. That was the miracle, the first in 10 days after we were trapped inside the cave. I was stunned and did not know what to say as we had been in the cave for many days. They asked me a question and it was quite some time before I was able to answer it,” he said. One of the divers asked, “How are you?” to which Adul said he replied, “I’m fine.” He then asked them, “Can I help you?” and they said no, no.

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Coach Ek said they had planned beforehand to travel into the cave and since they intended to stay for only one hour, they did not take any food with them.

“At first, we planned to reach our destination – Muang Badan, the deepest section of the cave, within one hour, as I had to also escort Nong to a special class at 5pm,” Ek said.

He said the water was shallow when they ventured into the cave, so they decided to go further by swimming through the submerged section.

“I discussed with the boys whether we should go forward by swimming through the submerged section. And since the water was shallow enough, the team agreed to go ahead until we reached Muang Badan,” he said.

But the situation underwent a dramatic change when the boys found themselves at a dead-end. After successfully crossing the first submerged section of the cave, they found the way ahead was also flooded, preventing them from travelling further. At the same time, they could not retreat either, because the floodwater had risen to levels that made it impossible for them to swim back to the cave entrance, he said.

“At that point, we still had hope that the water level would recede and allow us to swim back to the cave entrance. But the following morning, when we found the water level had not subsided, we realised we were trapped,” Ek revealed.

“At that moment, we considered our choices: we could dig our way out through the cave wall, or we should go further to the end of the cave, as some of our team members had heard that there is a secret entrance to the cave from there.”

But they never had a chance to try out the second option, as the water level was too high for them to go further. So the only option before them was to wait for help at Noen Nom Sao, where they were found, he said.

Life inside the cave was difficult for them, one young footballer, seated next to coach Ek, said. When they ran out of food they had taken into the cave, they had to solely live on water dripping from the wall, which tasted just like normal drinking water.

Two days into the cave, they started to feel weak and were told by coach Ake to stay still and to use only one flashlight, he said. By the time they were found by the cave divers on July 2, most of them were very weak.

One 11 year old boy said he was very hungry and tried not to think of food. Another boy said he tried to fill his stomach with water and he would join with others to dig the cave wall with rocks. They started this activity 3-4 days after being trapped and by the time they were rescued, they had managed to dig a hole that was about 3-4 metres deep.

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SOURCE: The Nation

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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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Chiang Rai

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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