July 23, 2019
Latest News

Thai Wild Boars soccer team gives thanks a year after cave rescue launched

Tham Luang Cave, Thailand, Jun 24 (efe-epa).- A soccer team made up of 12 schoolchildren and their coach whose safe deliverance from deep within a cave in northern Thailand gripped the world gave thanks by participating in colorful ceremonies where they offered flowers and food on Monday, a year after rescue efforts began.

Dressed in yellow T-shirts, the 13 survivors of the Wild Boars team made offerings to Buddhist monks at an exquisitely-decorated compound near the Tham Luang cave where their ordeal took place.

“We want to thank the members of the media, our neighbors here in Mae Sai, the public, public and private sectors as well as the international officials for all your help,” said the Wild Boars’ former coach Ekkapol Chantawong.

Tham Luang cave in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, which borders Myanmar has been closed to the public but a space outside has become a place of pilgrimage for tourists who flock to a museum dedicated to the rescue as well as a bronze statue of the former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan who lost his life during the mission.

Since the rescue, at least two books have been published about the difficulties encountered by the team and a film is to be aired on Netflix, co-directed by American director Jon Chu ("Crazy Rich Asians") and Thai filmmaker Nattawut Poonpiriya ("Bad Genius").

Ekkapol has launched his own soccer academy in Mae Sai village where he lives, and the other team members are back in school.

The Wild Boars soccer team, at the time aged between 11 and 16, and coach Ekkapol, 25, entered the cave on June 23, 2018, and became trapped inside after it flooded due to heavy rain.

As days passed following their disappearance, the public started to fear for their lives amidst a highly complex and dangerous international rescue operation involving around 1,300 people.

On July 2 they were found four kilometers (2.5 miles) in from the cave mouth by two British divers.

The boys were sitting on a ledge where they had survived by drinking water seeping down the cave walls.

Ekkapol also taught the boys meditation techniques to conserve energy and keep them calm.

Between July 8-10, the boys and the coach were sedated and brought out of the cave by specialized diving teams swimming along a dangerous four-kilometer underwater route.

The divers needed around three hours on average to extricate each boy.

Two months later, the coach and three of the kids – all of whom were stateless, as they belonged to ethnic minorities – were given Thai citizenship.

Following their odyssey, the group was invited to the United Kingdom to attend a Manchester United match in October.

They also went to the Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires and were interviewed by popular television host Ellen DeGeneres in the United States.

grc-nj/tw/hh

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