Loading...
meantStarted

Thai boys meant to stay one hour in cave, but it started to rain

Thai boys meant to stay one hour in cave, but it started to rain
Thai divers prepare to walk into Tham Luang cave.

Thai divers prepare to walk into Tham Luang cave.

Photo: Kate Geraghty

Banphot Konkum, father of 13-year-old Duangpetch “Dom” Promthep, said his son said the team members didn’t know rain had started falling after they had entered the cave on June 23. But the rain caused flooding in the cave, blocking them from exiting.

“After an hour when they wanted to leave, the water level was rising. They ran further inside the cave to escape from the water. The water flow was strong,” said Banphot.

Loading

In their search for a safe haven, the boys were reported to have used their hands to feel the walls for an opening to take them to a higher, safer spot. Searchers later found what they thought were the boys’ handprints, giving them confidence the boys were alive and that the searchers were on the right path.

“They, all 13 of them, saw a small passage or a crawl space, so they all dug the hole to get through to another spot, until they found Nen Nom Sao,” Banphot said, referring to the sandy slope on which they ended up sheltering. There was nowhere else to go.

Dom’s grandmother, Kameay Promthep , said she would tell Dom never to go near the cave or water again because she doesn’t want anything to happen to him or for him to cause trouble to others again.

Images from the Thai Navy SEALs show the rescue taking place.

Images from the Thai Navy SEALs show the rescue taking place.

Photo: Supplied

“I will tell Dom that he has to thank all the Thai people from all over the country and people from all over the world who were kind enough to come and help Dom. Without the [Thai navy] SEALs, the officials, and everyone who came and helped, Dom wouldn’t be here today.

“He would not be seeing his grandma, and grandma wouldn’t see his face again. From now on, Dom will have to be a good person.”

Former Thai Navy Seal Sgt Saman Gunan who died in the rescue effort.

Former Thai Navy Seal Sgt Saman Gunan who died in the rescue effort.

Photo: Supplied

Banphot said all 13 rescued team members will enter the monkhood to pay tribute to Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy SEAL who died while diving to place essential supplies along the rescue route. Becoming a monk at a temple for at least a short period is a way of making merit in Thai Buddhist tradition.

“We are planning the date and will do it whenever all the families are all ready,” said Banphot.

A monk walks past a golden Buddha in the Tham Pra cave shrine.

A monk walks past a golden Buddha in the Tham Pra cave shrine.

Photo: Kate Geraghty

The mother of the youngest Wild Boar teammate, 11-year old Chanin ‘Tun’ Wiboonrungrueng, told a Bangkok newspaper that her son told her the team did not make a special point of bringing along food since they were only planning a short trek into the cave.

Loading

“After the first three nights with no food in the cave, my son felt extreme hunger and cried,” Aikhan told the Bangkok Post. “He had to rely only on water dripping from the rock. It was very cold at night and pitch dark. They had to lie huddled together.

She said Tun, said the boys’ 25-year-old soccer coach Ekaphol ‘Ake’ Chantawong, told them to meditate to ease their hunger and save their energy.

John Volanthen, center, talks to US personnel and Richard Stanton, left, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.

John Volanthen, center, talks to US personnel and Richard Stanton, left, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.

Photo: AP

One of the two British divers who found the group said the rescue operation was “completely uncharted, unprecedented territory,” and that he had not been certain the boys would be found alive.

“Nothing like this has been done,” Rick Stanton said at a news conference at London’s Heathrow airport on Friday after returning from Thailand.

Recalling the moment on July 2 when he and his diving partner John Volanthen found the boys on their 10th day inside the cave, he said his initial reaction was “of course, excitement, relief that they were still alive.”

“As they were coming down the slope we were counting them till we got to 13. Unbelievable,” he said. “They looked in good health, but of course when we departed all we could think about was how we were going to get them out. And so there was relief tempered with uncertainty.”

Dr Richard Harris and his dive partner Craig Challen in an image uploaded to Dr Harris' Facebook page after the rescue mission.

Dr Richard Harris and his dive partner Craig Challen in an image uploaded to Dr Harris’ Facebook page after the rescue mission.

Photo: Facebook

The British divers who blazed the trail were praised by Australian doctor-diver Richard Harris, who stayed in the cave for three days to oversee the medical care of the boys while they were waiting to be rescued.

“Rick and John not only found the children and coach alive, but conveyed the gravity of the situation to the rest of the world and thus the rescue started in earnest,” he wrote on his Facebook page on Friday, as he was flying home on an Australian air force plane with his countrymen who also worked at the cave. “The 4 Brits then did further supply dives to the soccer players, the coach and the four Thai Navy Seals which allowed them to prepare and sustain themselves for the rescue ultimately.”

Thai authorities had contacted the British Cave Rescue Council for help when the boys disappeared. The British divers left London on June 26 with special rescue equipment, including radios designed to work in caves.

An international team of cave divers and Thai navy SEALs extracted the soccer team in a high-risk, three-day mission that concluded on Tuesday.

“None of the tasks were easy,” Thai navy SEAL commander Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew said after his men flew back to their base at Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand.

Loading

“We were working on many tasks and we had to plan well. Our troops were taking risks, working in dangerous conditions and risking their lives. Many had to go to hospitals after the dives and many were sick. But we didn’t mention it because it could affect morale.”

Harris also acknowledged the contribution of the many who were not directly involved with the diving operations, “swarms of men and women” from Thailand and the international community who provided “everything from catering, communications, media and of course the huge teams of workers filling the cave with tonnes and tonnes of equipment to try and lower the water and sustain the diving operations.”

“I have never seen anything like it with man battling to control the natural forces of the monsoon waters. Local climbing and rope access workers rigged the dry cave section for that part of the rescue and scoured the bush for more entrances to the cave. Drilling teams attempted to get through nearly a km of rock to the boy’s location. And all this time 4 brave Navy Seals sat with the Wild Boars knowing they were in as much danger as the kids.

AP

Most Viewed in World

Loading

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *