Thai Prime Minister Comforts Families of Boys Missing in Cave

Nontarat Phaicharoen
Chiang Rai, Thailand
180629-TH-cave-620.jpg Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha speaks to rescuers outside the Tham Luang cave where a youth soccer team went missing last week, June 29, 2018.
Nontarat Phaicharoen/BenarNews

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha traveled to the northern province of Chiang Rai on Friday to support the families of a dozen boys and their soccer coach who have been missing for nearly a week and are believed to be inside a flooded cave.

Prayuth offered words of encouragement to the players’ parents after traveling to the Tham Luang cave, about 867 km (542 miles) north of Bangkok. He also told them they had the support of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, whose youngest son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, 13, was following developments closely.

“The power of faith can make all things successful – have faith in the rescuers. Have faith in the strength of your children that they will come back to us,” Prayuth said.

Members of the Wild Boar Academy Mae Sai Football Club and their coach vanished after entering the cave following a practice session on June 23, prompting a mother to file a police report.

By Sunday, a Thai Navy SEAL team was dispatched to the scene to establish a rescue operation. British cave divers and a U.S. search team have joined the efforts.

More than 1,000 rescuers including divers, police, soldiers and border guards along with more than 100 journalists have gathered at the scene as each day passes without any new information about the team.

Since the 13 went missing, heavy rain has led to rising floodwaters inside the cave. Traces of fingerprints were found Monday on a sand dune about two miles (three km) from the six-mile (10-km) cave’s entrance.

New shaft found

Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is overseeing rescue efforts, told reporters on Friday afternoon that a team found a shaft in a sub-cave about 500 yards from the entrance of Tham Luang, allowing rescuers to climb down to the cave’s floor.

Narongsak said the new shaft could serve as an alternative to the main entrance, but it was too early to tell if it would lead to the missing boys.


Narongsak said flooding had wiped out chemical light markings installed by Thai SEALs as they ventured into the cave, slowing their progress.

“The SEALs only want the water level to recede enough so they can see ahead and wade through to the next chamber,” he said, adding that ongoing storms had kept the floodwaters from receding while volunteers pumped water out of the cave using huge hoses.

On Friday, rescuers flew small drones equipped with thermal imaging devices to search for a site to bore a potential rescue hole.

As dusk set in, the boys’ families and others joined Pra Boomchum, a senior Buddhist monk from Myanmar, as he held a rite to apologize to the cave spirits and beg for the children’s release.

A day earlier, a doctor expressed confidence that the soccer team could be rescued – pointing out they are strong athletes.

Meanwhile, the founder of a rock-climbing business told Agence France-Presse that the boys knew the cave well and had previously visited it, buoying hopes for their survival.

“It’s not ideal, but maybe not totally tragic yet,” said Josh Morris, founder of Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures. “Boys in a cave who have their wits about them and know the area – I think there’s a good chance they have significant time.”

Family members of the missing players participate in a Buddhist ceremony near the Tham Luang cave, June 29, 2018. [Nontarat Phaicharoen/BenarNews]
Family members of the missing players participate in a Buddhist ceremony near the Tham Luang cave, June 29, 2018. [Nontarat Phaicharoen/BenarNews]


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