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Thai expatriates happy over successful cave rescue mission
July 11, 2018 | 10:28 PM
by Times News Service
Thais have been glued to their television sets, mobile phones and computer screens following every twist and turn of the story, as have many people overseas.
 
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Muscat: Oman’s Thai community is expressing its gratitude and joy after a group of 12 boys and their football coach were rescued from a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand.

The story of the ‘Wild Boars’ football team, which quickly became an international sensation after they went missing on June 23, has captivated the world and was followed closely by Thais living in the Sultanate.

Speaking to the Times of Oman, Yaowarant, a hotel manager who resides in Muscat, said, “It’s a great relief. The operation to save the 12 boys and their coach could not have been executed without the support of so many countries. It truly demonstrated the power of unity and love. It’s definitely one of those missions the world will not forget.”

Offering the team advice, Yaowarant added, “Don’t blame yourself. Just live life to the fullest.”



Inas, a mother of one who also hails from the South East Asian Kingdom, said, “I’m so happy the rescue team got them out safely and would like to thank them all—the Thai Navy SEALs, the divers, and the international team that participated in this rescue mission.”

Their enthusiasm was echoed by their compatriots back home.

Thais have been glued to their television sets, mobile phones and computer screens following every twist and turn of the story, as have many people overseas. Thais turned to social media to show their elation using the hashtag #Hooyah, a word used by the navy to build morale. Other hashtags included #Heroes and #Thankyou.

“You are our heroes!” wrote some, captioning cartoons showing the boys and their coach with dozens of rescue workers, volunteers and military personnel.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he would host a celebration for all of those involved in the multinational rescue effort. “We will host a meal for all sides,” said Chan-ocha.

Some were more emotional. “This is an important event in my life. It is something I will remember,” said a visibly emotional Rachapol Ngamgrabuan, an official at Chiang Rai’s provincial press office.

“There were times when I cried,” he added. “Happy. Very happy to see that all Thai people love each other.”

The dramatic rescue and celebrations mark the end of a more than two-week-long ordeal, which began when the Wild Boars team and their coach were trapped inside the flooded Tham Luang cave on the border.

Official help came from Britain, the United States, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, China and Australia, a government document showed. There were also volunteers from Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Ukraine and Finland.

A senior Australian police officer acknowledged the degree of international cooperation “in a very unfriendly environment”.

“It is amazing what human beings can do. There are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Glenn McEwan, the Australian Federal Police’s Asia manager, told reporters in Chiang Rai.

“ ... We are humbled to have been a part of it.

“Returning the Wild Boar soccer team safely into the arms of their loved ones is the best news of the year,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior health officials in Chiang Rai confirmed that each member of the group lost an average of 2kg (4 pounds) during their 17-day ordeal but were generally in good health and showed no signs of stress.

They were taken by helicopter to a hospital some 70km away to join their teammates in quarantine for the time being.

“From our assessment, they are in good health and not stressed. Most of the boys lost an average of 2kg,” Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, an inspector for Thailand’s health department, told reporters.

Parents of the first four boys freed on Sunday have been able to visit them but had to wear protective suits and stand 2 metres away as a precaution.

Lertwilairattanapong said a boy from the last group rescued on Tuesday had a lung infection and they were all given vaccinations for rabies and tetanus.

The group ventured into the vast cave complex in northern Thailand after soccer practice on June 23 and were missing for nine days before they were discovered by British divers.

The drama in Thailand has even resonated as far as Russia, where the football World Cup is reaching its final stages. Players from France and England welcomed news of the rescue and sent their best wishes to the Wild Boars on Twitter.

“This victory goes to the heroes of the day, well-done boys, you are so strong,” French midfielder Paul Pogba tweeted after his team beat Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday to reach the finals.

Manchester City and England defender Kyle Walker, whose team faces Croatia in the second semi-final later on Wednesday, said he wanted to send shirts to the boys.

“Amazing news that all of the Thai kids are out of the cave safely!” Walker tweeted.

A Google search on Tuesday for the words “Thai cave rescue” revealed 359 million results.



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