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Hopes and prayers unanswered – time is running out.

Tim Newton

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Hopes and prayers unanswered – time is running out. | The Thaiger

By Tim Newton

Now into the ninth day. Hopes and prayers unanswered.

The 12 teenagers and their coach went into the caves last Saturday afternoon (June 23) following their weekly practice. We are told they were carrying with them basic provisions, water and a first aid kit. Any provisions would now be long finished. Luckily water is in plentiful supply.

But, without some tangible signs of life in the next day or so, hope will quickly slip away and the rescue mission will swing into a mission to recover the bodies. Of course there is still a strong likelihood that the 13 can still be found alive.

But time is running out.

Seven days in the dark, wondering if help is on its way would be a terrifying ordeal. The team, know locally as the Wild Boars, are a close-knit group according to their parents and friends. The team are all aged 11 to 16 years old. The coach with them is 23. It wasn’t their first trip to the caves – like most locals they knew a bit about their way around the first sections of the famous cave system. But in seven days nothing has been heard of the team.

The dramatic entrance leads into the first kilometre which features limestone rock formations and high ceilings. Past this point the passages narrow and the locals know that’s as far as you should go unless you have proper training and experience.

The group ventured past this point passing signs that warn not to enter during the wet season. Whilst they were inside it started raining. And raining. They couldn’t go back to the entrance, the only way was to go further into the bowels of the mountain, deeper into the seven kilometre-long Tham Luang Nang Non cave.

The park closed to the public at 5,30pm but the park ranger noticed the parked bikes, back-packs and shoes at the entrance and contacted the police. The search began immediately, although there was little anyone could do with the access-way flooded.

Hopes and prayers unanswered - time is running out. | News by The Thaiger

The tentative early search has now grown into a team of hundreds, many with specific expertise in caving, some with detailed knowledge of the Tham Luang caves. Personnel and equipment have been flying in daily, drones have been scouring access into the caves from above, Navy SEALS have been pushing deep into the muddy waters, trying to progress their search towards where they believe the team is waiting.

Meanwhile the waiting families have been getting increasingly desperate, hanging onto every word from emerging rescuers and pushing officials for information. Some have had to be taken to hospital suffering exhaustion, panic and stress. Officials have now set-up a special tent so the families can stay on site and keep abreast of any developments, any trace of good news. Monks and counsellors are spending time with them, partly as a distraction but also for religious and moral support.

A British caver and long-time resident of Chiang Rai told CNN that, “…it’s not a hard cave, it’s just very long and it has big passages, small passages. It’s not difficult but if the children have gone in too far then the floodwaters from the far end will be coming through. With the rain, it’s not making it any easier.”

The main issue, from day one, was trying to get the water, flooding into the caves, out. But as soon as the pumps made any headway, new rains would bring more water. Special pumps, usually used to handle floods in the capital, were brought up from Bangkok, but even they’ve been struggling to keep ahead of mother nature.

There are hundreds of Thai media, now under strict orders to ‘behave’ and stop intruding on the rescue workers and families. The moment any sign of life emerges from the Tham Luang caves we will all know – with the speed of social and electronic media delivering the news in real time.

We hope that moment will arrive swiftly. We also hope the forlorn sets of soccer shoes, still sitting at the mouth of the cave with the team’s bikes, will get some serious use with the Wild Boars again soon.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now CEO and writer for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He presented for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and provides stories for Feature Story News as the south east Asian correspondent.

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People

Songkhla soi dogs heading to the US

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Songkhla soi dogs heading to the US | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Workpoint News | Thai Street Paws Rescue

5 dogs out of 29 that had been left to die in an abandoned home in Songkhla are now heading to the US to meet their new owners.

Officials from the Division of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Service and Smiledog Home volunteers report that the 29 dogs and 8 cats were abandoned at a house in Songkhla. Two representatives from Smiledog are taking care of the animals in Songkhla as their health improves and the lucky 5 dogs prepare for their long plane journey. A team of vets from Song Tale Veterinary Clinic have been providing expert medical care.

The owner of Thai Street Paws Rescue, Tamara Johnston, is an Australian teacher who teaches in Songkhla. She has played a major role in saving these animals and is the reason why 5 of them will be traveling to the US in September. She has been rescuing stray dogs and finds new owners for them without any adoption costs, except the travel fees for the animals.

Siripun Knampromwong from Smiledog Home says that the dogs have been happier since the rescue. They are playing with each other and have enough space to run around. There are still some animals available for adoption, those who are interested can contact via the Facebook page.

STORY: Workpoint News | Thai Residents

Songkhla soi dogs heading to the US | News by The Thaiger Songkhla soi dogs heading to the US | News by The Thaiger

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North East

Thai bus travels ‘sideways’ along north-east highway

The Thaiger

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Thai bus travels ‘sideways’ along north-east highway | The Thaiger

VIDEO: สุดจัดปลัดบอก ปลัดลาออกยังบอกว่าสุดจัด

A bus, making its way from Nakhon Ratchasima, to Udon Thani, has surprised the passengers in the car behind. They did what we all would do in these circumstances. Notify the police? No, post it on Facebook!

The bus was travelling, crab-like, slightly sideways, at reasonably high speed for many kilometres. The bus’s wheel alignment was well out of whack or something was loose. Either way, the bus was a danger for everyone on the road, and the passengers, as its journey was captured, making its way through Khon Kaen in north-east Thailand.

On a positive note, the passengers on the right hand side of the bus had a lovely view of the road ahead.

รถบัสโดยสารสายนครราชสีมา-อุดรธานี สภาพรถเอียงคล่อมเลนตั้งแต่ออกจากอุดรธานีมุ่งหน้าขอนแก่น อาจจะเกิดอันตรายแก่ผู้โดยสารได้ ไม่ทราบว่าคนขับรู้สึกถึงความผิดปกติหรือไม่ 🙄

Posted by สุดจัดปลัดบอก ปลัดลาออกยังบอกว่าสุดจัด on Tuesday, 20 August 2019

 

 

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North East

Farmlands flooded in Mukdahan from mountain run-off

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Farmlands flooded in Mukdahan from mountain run-off | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

Some 10,000 rai of farmland and a main road have been inundated with run-off from mountains in Mukdahan, north-east Thailand near the Laos border and Mekong River. The roads were cut off yesterday morning.

The Dong Luang district chief Somsak Boonchan says the runoff from the Phuphan Noi mountain range was caused by several days of heavy rain in the area. The runoff developed into a large creek running down from the mountains that overflowed and flooded Khao Wong-Dong Luang Luang road in Ban Na Lak village of Tambon Phang Daeng.

The water level at the flooded section was so high that vehicles were unable to pass through, according to The Nation.

Local authorities have provided boats to shuttle local residents to safety and officials were now stationed at the spot to help villagers navigate the area until the waters subside.

The district chief said some 10,000 rai of farmland in the village were inundated as well as nearby villages.

The local Or For Tor had also dispatched boats to provide immediate relief to residents, many of whom would be relocated from their flooded houses to a temporary shelter downtown.

SOURCE: The Nation

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