Thailand News

“Wild Boars” boys recount their cave ordeal with smiles  

Thai PBS English News -

The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from the  flooded Tham Luang cave waved, smiled and offered traditional “wai” greetings in their first public appearance tonight at a national broadcast in Chiang Rai.

Doctors, relatives and friends, some in yellow traditional garb, greeted the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach, who wore T-shirts emblazoned with a red graphic of a wild boar and carried in footballs they kicked gently on the set.

“Bringing the Wild Boars Home,” read a banner in Thai that greeted the soccer team on the set, designed to resemble a soccer field, complete with goalposts and nets, where the boys sat on a dais beside five members of the rescue team.

A crowd of media and onlookers was penned behind barricades as the boys arrived in vans from the hospital where they had stayed since last week’s international effort to extricate them from a flooded cave complex in which they had been trapped.

“I told everyone fight on, don’t despair,” said one of the boys, recounting how they struggled during the excruciating days spent in the cave.

Another, Adul Sam-on, 14, recalled the moment when two British divers found the group on July 2, squatting in a flooded chamber several kilometres within the cave complex.

“It was magical,” he said. “I had to think a lot before I could answer their questions.”

He added: “It was in the evening when we were scratching rocks on the top of the boulder and we heard voices.”

That discovery triggered the rescue effort that brought them all to safety over the course of three days, organised by Thai navy Seals and a global team of cave-diving experts.

The group had planned to explore the Tham Luang cave complex for about an hour after soccer practice on June 23. But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

“We took turns digging at the cave walls,” said their coach Ekkapol Chantawong, who has been credited with keeping the boys alive by some of their parents. “We didn’t want to wait around until the authorities found us.”

But their efforts were to no avail, he said, adding: “Almost everyone can swim. Some aren’t strong swimmers, however.”

The group, which had eaten before going into the caves, took no food on the excursion, and had to subsist on water dripping from stalactites in the cave during their ordeal, he added.

“We only drank water,” said one of the boys, nicknamed Tee.

The team’s youngest member, Titan, added: “I had no strength. I tried not to think about food so I didn’t get more hungry.”

The boys, who sported crisp haircuts, had gained 3kg each on average since the rescue, and ran through confidence-building exercises ahead of Wednesday’s event, the hospital director said.

The rescue effort drew global media attention and hundreds of journalists, with excitement picking up again in the usually sleepy town of Chiang Rai ahead of the much-anticipated 45-minute live appearance broadcast on dozens of channels.

“We don’t know what wounds the kids are carrying in their hearts,” said justice ministry official Tawatchai Thaikaew, who asked for the boys’ privacy to be respected after the discharge, for fear that media attention could affect their mental health.

“The media know the children are in a difficult situation, they have overcome peril and if you ask risky questions then it could break the law,” he told reporters. (Reuters)

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Journalists begin arriving for press conference with “Wild Boars”

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Journalists, both Thai and international, have started arriving at the office of Chiang Rai provincial administration for the first press conference with the 12 Wild Boars soccer team and their coach.

The tightly-controlled press conference is scheduled to start at 6 pm and broadcast live via the daily “Thailand Moving Forward” programme which is normally telecast simultaneously on all digital TV channels. Thai PBS news team in Chiang Rai reported that many of the journalists began registering for the press conference as early as before 4 pm.

Since journalists will not be allowed to pose questions directly to the young footballers, they were asked to submit their questions in advance to be screened by psychiatrists.

Some of the questions submitted as seen by Thai PBS deal mostly with how the boys and their coach managed to cope with the two-week captivity within in the dark and flooded cave, and what they plan to do in returning to their normal lives.

The press conference will take place in the presence of the boys’ families and all of them are expected to be allowed to go home after that.

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British divers praise courage of the Thai Navy SEALs

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The British Cave Rescue Council has praised the Thai Navy SEAL rescue team for their courage in carrying out the rescue operation to extract the 12 Wild Boars footballers and their coach out of the flooded Tham Luang cave.

It said they were able to accomplish the mission despite the lack of “specialist equipment, knowledge and experience we all know to be necessary to operate safely in the harsh environment of a cave diving situation.”

In a statement to the Thai Navy SEAL on Tuesday, BCRC vice chairman Bill Whitehouse said the BCRC officers supporting and following the rescue operation from Britain have been in awe of the courage displayed by the Thai Navy SEALs and their achievement.

“Clearly, the SEALs were faced with having to do all they could to help save the boys with only the equipment and knowledge they had. To say that they were dangerous is a wrong interpretation of what the cave divers are saying.

“It would be much more accurate to say that they wittingly went “into danger” with the only kits and skills they had available to them and there can surely be no better measure of courage than that,” said Mr Whitehouse in the statement.

He also expressed his condolence for the death of former SEAL member, Lt-Commander Samarn Guna, who died while carrying out support operation in the cave.

Chris Jewell, one of the British cave divers who took part in the rescue mission also praised the Thai divers for the bravery. “From my perspective, the SEALs were extremely brave and talented divers – they simply aren’t used to operating in caves. However, it is a testament to their skill and adaptability that they managed to achieve what they did in an unfamiliar environment. It was also great to see the way in which they adapted and learnt throughout the operation – an admirable quality in cave diving,” he said.

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Thai engineer impressed with Musk’s team

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A Thai engineer involved in the drilling operation to find alternative entrances into Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai at the height of the “Wild Boars” rescue mission early month said yesterday despite all the uproar over SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s tweets, he was personally impressed with the focus his team of engineers had on attempts to save the young footballers’ lives.

Associate Prof Suthisak Soralump, a geotechnical engineer from Kasetsart University, said the American team showed every intention to be part of the rescue efforts. “They didn’t come with solutions. They didn’t try to tell you what to do. They listened and took notes,” said Suthisak, who also served as a liaison between Thai authorities and foreign experts.

He said that during their discussions, Musk’s team paid attention to details and wasted no time in coming up with ideas. “As soon as we finished talking, they would be on the phone talking to their colleagues back home about how what we discussed could be translated into action,” he said.

The Thai engineer, who supervised the operation to drill holes to find possible alternatives entrances into the cave, said the initial experiment of using nylon tubes to create an air tunnel underwater as reported by the media was a result of their discussion. Musk himself later visited the cave and delivered a miniature submarine to the Thai rescue team.

Suthisak, however, said he told Musk’s team that it was up to the Thai Navy SEALs, who spearheaded the rescue mission, to decide whether any of their equipment would be practical for their operation. In the end, Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn, chief of the rescue operation, politely rejected the use of the mini-submarine, saying it was not suitable for the mission.

“Even though the mini-sub would not be practical for this specific mission, I have to commend Musk and his team for leaving it behind so that it might be of use for some other purposes in the future,” the engineer said.

He said he was impressed with the seriousness that Musk’s team displayed in helping to find ways to rescue the young soccerites and their coach. “I can tell you that they were here with every intention to help,” he said.

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Private helicopter crashes in Khon Kaen, 3 killed

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A private helicopter crashed in Chonnabot district of the northeastern province of Khon Kaen on Wednesday morning (July 18), killing three people on board, police said.

Pol Col Kirati Amornpatpanin, the Chonnabot police chief, said the helicopter crashed at about 9am in a rice field near Ban Nong Pling in Tambon Wang Saeng and went up in flames.

Parts of the aircraft scattered all over the crash site which has been cordoned off for further examination, he said.

Of the three people killed, only two were identified. They were Wanchai Waratisai, a pilot of SFS Aviation Company, and Seksan Wanna, 51, of Phetchabun’s Muang district.

Atthaya Larpmak, director of the Khon Kaen airport, said initial reports reaching him said the helicopter, an Airbus helicopter AS355 NP, belonging to Hililux Aviation Company, departed from a flight training airfield in Saraburi. The aircraft lost contact while flying over Chonnabot district of Khon Kaen in the cloudy sky.

Authorities concerned were investigating the cause of the accident, he said.

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Cabinet nod for draft agreement on repatriation of Myanmar refugees

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The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft agreement on the repatriation of Myanmar refugees as proposed by the Foreign Ministry, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

The draft agreement was made at a meeting, hosted by the Foreign Ministry, of representatives of the Thailand and Myanmar on March 28.

According to the draft agreement, Thailand Myanmar will work together to send back to their home country Myanmar refugees who have been living at nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border on a volutary basis.

Myanmar will divide the refugees into three groups. In the first group are refugees whose birth places can be clearly verified. The second are those who have chosen a clear destination on being repatriated. In the third category are those who need occupational training.

As for those who definitely decide to return to resettle permanently in Myanmar, they will be repatriated through the Mae Sot-Myawaddy checkpoint in Tak province and Ban Phu Nam Ron checkpoint in Kanchanaburi.

According to a recent survey, there are nine refugee camps along the border — four in Mae Hong Son, three in Tak, one in Kanchanaburi and one in Ratchaburi — sheltering a total of about 99,700 war refugees.

Since 2015, 164 refugees have been voluntarily repatriated on two occasions — 71 in the first batch and 93 in the second.

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Tropical storm “Son-tinh” brings more rain to upper Thailand

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The upper part of Thailand will have more rain and isolated heavy to very heavy rain during July 18-21 as Tropical Storm “Son-tinh,” which is moving in the westerly direction with the speed of 35 kilometres per hour, was expected to reach the Gulf of Tonkin this morning, and upper Vietnam this evening, according to the latest forecast of the Meteorological Department.

As of 4am this morning, tropical storm Son-tinh, was over the upper South China Sea with its maximum sustained wind of 70km per hour.

People are advised to take precautions against severe weather conditions and stay tuned for the weather forecast.

Also during July 18-21, the strong southwest monsoon prevails over the Andaman Sea, Thailand and the Gulf of Thailand. Abundant rain with isolated heavy rain are likely in the Central, the East and the South.

Waves in the Andaman Sea and the upper Gulf of Thailand are expected to be 2-3 metres high and over 3 metres in areas with thundershowers. All vessels should proceed with caution and small boats are advised to remain ashore.

Residents along the eastern and western coasts of the South should watch for in-shore surges, said the announcement.

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Teachers warned of serious consequences for debt default 

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Teachers who have threatened to stop servicing their debts to the Government Savings Bank were warned that they could face serious consequences, including the prospect of being declared bankrupt by the court.

Deputy justice permanent secretary Thawatchai Thaikhieu on Tuesday posted his opinion on his Facebook page in response to an online video clip featuring about 100 teachers gathering to make a declaration demanding the government and the GSB to provide about 450,000 teachers who took loans from the GSB under the funeral welfare fund scheme six-month debt moratorium starting October 1.

They also threatened to stop repaying their debts to the GSB starting August 1.

Mr Thawatchai said that teachers who refuse to honor their debt repayment commitment could face the prospect of facing bankruptcy lawsuits if the amount of their debts is beyond one million baht.

Worse still, he said their guarantors would be in trouble as well as they might also be slapped with bankruptcy lawsuits if they could not come up with debt repayments on behalf of the debtors.

Mr Thawatchai also warned that if any teachers were declared bankrupt by the court, they could lose their teaching jobs because, according to the law, a bankrupt person is not qualified to become a teacher.

He further clarified that a person declared bankrupt by the court will have his/her freedom of movements and right to undertake legal transactions restricted.  For instances, they cannot perform any legal and financial transactions; are banned from travelling abroad unless there is a permission from officials of the legal execution department.

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Officials seize decorative corals in raids at Chatuchak area

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Police and officials from the national parks, fisheries and marine resources departments seized a substantial haul of decorative corals and coralline algae in raids of several shops in Chatuchak area on Tuesday.

Mr Nuwat Leelatapa, a member of the Yiew Dong task force of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment had received many complaints from the public about several shops in Chatuchak area dealing in banned marine products such as corals and coralline algae and protected wildlife species.
With search warrants issued by the Criminal Court, members of the task force with cooperation from the police and officials from the Fisheries and Marine and Coastal Resources departments launched a coordinated raid, targeting three shops suspected of harboring the illegal items.
At one shop reportedly owned by 24-year old Ms Supatra Saengkham, the officials found nine packs of hard corals of Scleractinia order and 15 soft coral packs of Alcyonacea order.  Nuwat said the shop does not have a permit to possess or to trade in the items.
At the second shop, Nuwat said the shopowner shuttered the shop and escaped before the arrival of the raiding party.  Nevertheless, the officials used a bolt cutter to cut the lock and entered the shop where they found  29 hard coral packs of Scleractinia order.
Three more soft coral packs were found in the third shop and its owner, Mr Sikharin Siriboon admitted he owned the corals but could not produce any official permit.
Mr Nuwat said that most of the corals would be sold to aquarium tropical fish raisers at between 20-500 baht for a small pack.

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French tourists injured in bus accident in Chiang Rai

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Twenty-five French tourists and one Thai guide were injured with 4-5 of them in serious condition after a tour bus in which they were travelling overturned on a secondary road in Mae Lao district of Chiang Rai province on Tuesday.

Rescue workers said that most of the tourists sustained bruises and were discharged after given first-aid treatment at Mae Lao district hospital.

The accident took place in Ban Huey Sarn Yao in Tambon Dong Mada, Mae Lao district as the tour bus was travelling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.

The bus driver, Mr Natthapol Klinchuen, who escaped unhurt waited for the police at the scene of the accident.  He reportedly told the police that he lost control of the bus when it arrived at a curve which was slippery due to rainfall.

The bus then smashed into a kilometer marker and then into roadside bushes before it overturned, said the driver, adding that he did not accelerate the speed nor was there any car trying to overtake his bus which might cause the accident.

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When Navy SEALs face their toughest challenge

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The Navy SEALs are known as the toughest warriors of the Thai fighting forces.   But even their most grueling training apparently didn’t prepare them for what they had to encounter at Tham  Luang  cave when they were called upon to save the lives of 12 young footballers and their coach trapped inside. SEAL Commander Rear Adm Arpakorn Yookongkaew admitted in an interview with Thai PBS that while his men were fully committed to the mission, there were moments of uncertainty and doubts plaguing the rescue operation.












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Policeman sentenced to 7 years in jail for engineer’s death

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The parents of a young engineer shot dead by police in Sakhon Nakhon seven years ago on the pretext that he was involved in drug dealing were finally vindicated when the Supreme Court declared their son innocent and upheld the lower court’s seven and a half years’ imprisonment imposed on the police shooter for overacting and abuse of power.

Mrs Duansai Saengrith, mother of the dead victim, Phairote, said briefly after the reading of the Supreme Court’s verdict at the Sakhon Nakhon provincial court today that she was glad that justice was finally accorded to her family and her son.

She also insisted that her son and family had never been involved in drugs as accused by the police.

The case dated back to December 27, 2011, when a seven-man police team from Panna Nikhom police station, led by Pol Snr-Sgt Maj Sitthikul Katiwong, opened fire into a car driven by Mr Phairote with two other occupants in it.

One shot struck Phairote’s neck, killing him instantly while the two others escaped unhurt. The police alleged that the victim possessed drugs and resisted police arrest.

About one year afterward, the victim’s family, with the help of the Law Council of Thailand, filed a lawsuit with Sakhon Nakhon provincial court, accusing the alleged shooter, Sitthikul, and five other policemen of abuse of power and excessive use of force against the victim whom they claimed were innocent.

Both the provincial court and the Appeals court found Sitthikul guilty and sentenced him to seven years and six months jail term. The five other policemen were acquitted.

Hailing the Supreme Court’s decision, the victim’s lawyer, Mr Ratchada Manooratchada, said the verdict should serve as a precedent to deter law enforcement officers from abusing their power.

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13 Wild Boars to be discharged tomorrow

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The 12 Moo Pa Academy football players and their coach will be released from hospital tomorrow — a day earlier than planned, Chiang Rai Governor Prajon Pratsakul confirmed today.

Mr Prajon said the young survivors of Tham Luang cave saga will also speak to the media for the first time tomorrow at a press conference to be telecast live on “Thailand Moving Forward,” a daily television programme initiated by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) after seizing power four years ago. The programme will be beamed live from the office of Chiang Rai provincial administration starting at 6.00pm.

However, journalists will be not be allowed to pose questions directly to the young footballers. They are requested to submit their questions in writing before-hand to be screened by psychiatrists, the governor said. The psychiatrists will decide which of the questions should be conveyed to them.

Even though the physical health of the 12 boys and their soccer coach have been fully rehabilitated after spending more than a week under close medical care at Chiang Rai hospital, psychiatrists are still concerned about their mental state and have advised against exposing them directly to questioning by the media.

Governor Prajon said they will be discharged a day earlier than planned because they have made full recovery though they still need to continue to be given anti-botics for another week.

The governor said their families will be also be present at the press conference tomorrow. Mr Prajon said the media will be advised not to bother the boys after they return to their families and communities. Their parents will also be cautioned not to subject their children to media expose because they are still mentally vulnerable and are protected under the child protection law.

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Criteria for granting Thai nationality must be strictly adhered: Anupong

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The legal criteria for granting Thai nationality to stateless people must be strictly adhered to in the case of three members of the Moo Pa Academy football team and their coach, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said this morning.

The three young football players and their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, are classified as stateless persons was they were born to families of illegal immigrants. All have already submitted applications for Thai nationality. Their legal status came to light after their plight in Tham Luang cave became known world-wide.

Gen Anupong said that district officers, provincial governors and even he himself are not legally entitled to grant Thai nationality to anyone unless proper legal procedure is followed.

The minister said those who apply for Thai nationality are required by the law to meet the legal criteria. He admitted that the process is always time-consuming as DNA and other evidence need to be verified.

Gen Anupong said people who were entitled to receive Thai nationality last year were born in Thailand and have stayed in the country for 15 years or longer, even though their parents did not enter the country legally. They were all required to prove they met the criteria.

Since 2014 about 20,000 stateless people have been granted Thai nationality, he added.

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Rain, isolated heavy rain expected across the country this week

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Abundance of rain is forecast for the upper part of the country this week, with isolated heavy rain predicted for the North, the Northeast, the Central, the East and west coast of the South, according to this morning’s weather forecast from the Meteorological Department.

It is a result of a monsoon trough lying across Myanmar, the upper North of Thailand and Laos, and the active low pressure over Tonkin Bay. At the same time, the strong southwest monsoon is prevailing over the Andaman Sea and The Gulf of Thailand.

People are warned of possible flash floods and severe weather conditions. Residents along the eastern and western coastlines of the South should stay alert for inshore surges.

Waves are likely to be 2-3 metres high in the upper Andaman Sea and the upper Gulf of Thailand. All ships should proceed with caution, and small boats are advised to stay ashore.

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Australian diver admits boys and coach sedated in rescue

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One of the two Australians who were with the Wild Boars football team and helped them escape safely from the Tham Luong cave in Chiang Rai has revealed the boys and their coach were heavily sedated during the extraction operation, according to ABC. Retired Perth vet Craig Challen explained how he worked closely with his friend and fellow expert cave diver, Adelaide anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris, to medically assess the boys and their coach and get them ready for the rescue operation, in an exclusive interview with the ABC’s Four Corners program. In his first in-depth interview about the rescue operation, Dr Challen confirmed that the boys were heavily sedated. “They did have some sedation to keep them calm, because the worst thing that could happen would be one of those guys panicking,” he said. “If you put me in a full face mask with no previous experience and dragged me out of a cave for, it’s about a three hour trip, then I would be terrified and probably panicking as well.” Dr Challen and Dr Harris were called in by Thai authorities and arrived in northern Thailand on July 6. They dived into the flooded cave the next day. “They [the boys] were pretty unreservedly happy to see us, I think. I can’t imagine what it was like for them being in there nine days with no contact,” Dr Challen said.

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Teachers demand a moratorium to their debts to GSB for six months

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About 450,000 teachers who are members of the funeral welfare fund for teachers have vowed to stop reimbursing the Government Savings Bank for debts they owe to the bank starting August 1. In the meantime, the teachers’ organization has demanded the government and the GSB to impose a moratorium on six-month debt moratorium starting October 1 for teachers for the loans they took from the GSB. The debt moratorium and warning to stop paying debts to the GSB were mentioned in the so-called Maha Sarakham declaration made by the teachers’ organization. Mr Ouychai Watha, president of Teachers’ Organization Network, said Monday that the declaration was a symbolic gesture of the teachers who are debtors to the GSB who have collectively taken out over 300 billion baht in loans from the bank. He claimed that teachers’ indebtedness was not caused by the teachers’ inability to service their debts alone but also stemmed from the debt structure interest calculation. Ouychai further said that the teachers’ organization also raised the debt problem with Mr Tuang Inthachai, chairman of the education and sports committee of the National Legislative Assembly.

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Tham Luang forest closed  indefinitely due to heavy damage 

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Tham Luang Nang-Khun Nam Nang Non forest park has been closed indefinitely due to extensive damages caused to the park’s environment during the recent dramatic rescue operations. Forestry officials said the forest requires massive rehabilitation and restoration.

Mr Tunya Nititham, director-general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said today the Tham Luang cave which was the central point of the rescue operations had sustained extensive damages which could not be assessed yet because the cave is now fully flooded up to its entrance.

He disclosed that several equipment and materials used for rescue operations, such as electric wires had been left behind in the cave, adding that the cave’s surrounding areas had been bored with holes to drain out ground water and paved to make landing for helicopters and cave walls punched to divert water flow.

He said he ordered the forest park to be closed indefinitely and off-limits to all unauthorized persons until rehabilitation work to restore the park back to its natural condition or close to its original condition is completed “which may take months or years.”

Rehabilitation plans which include short-term, medium-term and long-term plans are being worked out before they are to be submitted to the minister of natural resources and environment together with request for funding for consideration.
The short-term plan will cover safety measures which include the installation of CCTV systems at the cave and at other tourist attractions in the area as well as improvement of lighting inside and outside the cave.

Asked about the proposal that the Tham Luang forest park be upgraded as a national park, Mr Tunya said public hearings would be required to gauge the opinions of the people who have been living around the forest park.

He cautioned that, once it is upgraded into a national park, more restrictions will have to be imposed, including the number of visitors to the cave.  But he said he was not in a hurry about the proposal.

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British diver may sue Musk for calling him “pedo”

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British caver Vernon Unsworth who helped rescue the Wild Boars soccer team from Tham Luang cave said today he may take legal action against Elon Musk after the Tesla CEO called him a “pedo”.

Musk launched a stinging attack on Unsworth without providing any justification or explanation, after the cave expert slammed his offer of a miniature submarine to extract the footballers from the Tham Luang cave as a “PR stunt”.

Unsworth told AFP today he had not reviewed the tweets in full and had only heard about them.

Asked if he would take legal action against Musk over the allegation, Unsworth said: “If it’s what I think it is yes.” The caver told AFP he would make a decision when he flies back to Britain this week, but said the episode with Musk “ain’t finished”.

“He’s just a PR stunt merchant – that’s all he is,” Unsworth added.

Unsworth, who lives part of the year in Thailand, took part in the gargantuan 18-day effort to retrieve the 12 boys and their coach, a mission that ended on July 10 when the last five members were extracted.

In his interview with CNN, Unsworth noted that the flooded tunnel was extremely narrow and twisted. “The submarine, I believe was about five, six feet long. Rigid,” he said. “So it wouldn’t have gone around corners or around any obstacles. It wouldn’t have made it the first 50 metres.”

Unsworth then claimed that Musk had been quickly asked to leave the cave during his much-tweeted-about visit.

Musk responded Sunday in a bizarre series of tweets referring to Unsworth without using his name as “pedo guy”. “Pedo” is short for paedophile.

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“Doctor Pak” in emotional reunion with Wild Boars boys

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There was an emotional scene when Lt Col Dr Pak Loharnchun, a military doctor better known as “Mor Pak”,  visited the 12 young footballers and their coach in a happy reunion at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.

Pak and four members of the SEAL unit stayed with the young survivors  from the day they were found and were among the last to leave the cave after the rescue operation ended successfully.

He and the children met for the first time after they were brought out of the cave one July 10.

Pak, a NAVY SEAL diver and an avid adventure seeker,  posted on his Facebook page today still  images of him embracing each member of the Moo Pa Academy football team and their coach Ekapol Chanthawong at the hospital when they were reunited. He did not say when the reunion took place.

Along with the images,  Pak narrated his impressions with the 13 survivors and praised the boys for their resilience and sense of optimism. They were always in high spirits despite being in an unpleasant environment and a critical situation, he wrote.

“The boys were disciplined. They collected trash after every meal and put it in black bags.  Coat Ake (the coach) taught them not to take anything from the cave and the children listened to him and obeyed him,” he wrote.

“Coach Ake has a good heart and always ready to make sacrifices. As I noticed from the first day, coach Ake shared parts of his food ration with the kids. I think he had taken care of the kids well before they were found. So the children were in better conditions, both physically and mentally, than I expected.

“Every member of the Moo Pa Academy football team knows how other people had made sacrifices in searching for them. I am confident the Moo Pa boys will grow up to be excellent human resources. They will certainly work for the interest of the country and bring good reputation to Thailand in the future,”  Pak wrote.

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