Twelve Thai boys and their assistant soccer coach, who had gone missing after soccer practice on June 23 as they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, were miraculously found alive by rescuers after nine days.
The dramatic rescue surely sent a sigh of relief among the families of the boys. The trapped boys were given the chance to communicate with their parents by the Thai navy. The boys sent handwritten letters to their parents and requested for their favorite meals.
In their heartfelt letters, the kids said they wanted to come home as soon as possible and told their parents they are strong and not to worry about them.
“Don’t worry, I’m fine. Please tell Yod to take me out to a fried chicken shop,” read one letter.
Another boy said, “I love you father and mother and Toy. If we can get out, please can you take me to eat at a pan-fried pork restaurant? I love you.”
“Don’t worry that I am missing for two weeks, I will help you at the shop soon,” another one told his parents.
Another letter read, “I’m fine but it’s a little bit cold, don’t worry and don’t forget my birthday.”
Ekkapol Chantawong, the 25-year-old coach, also wrote a letter to the boys’ parents and apologized.
“Dear all kids' parents, now all of them are fine, the rescue team is treating us well. And I promise I will take care of the kids as best as I can. Thank you for everyone's that come to help. I also sincerely apologize to the kids' parents,” he wrote.
The letters, delivered by the Thai navy divers, marked the first communication between the boys and their families as officials have been unsuccessful in establishing a phone line.
Although the boys have been located, getting them out of the “labyrinth” cave won’t be that easy.
Rescuers had discussed waiting until water levels subsided to get the boys out. However, there’s no telling how long that will take. The fact the team was stuck above the flood waters for nine days without food and fresh water has put them in a weakened physical state.
Other options that are being considered to bring the boys back is teaching the group to use diving gear to navigate the flooded cave. But making matters worse, most of the young boys do not know how to swim.
Recently, a former Thai navy diver, Sgt. Samarn Kunan, lost his life while taking part in the rescue operation to help the trapped boys. When he became unconscious while making the return journey, his diving buddy brought him out. But, unfortunately, he failed to revive him.
The death of an experienced diver further put the fate of the rescue mission in jeopardy and uncertainty as it laid out the possible dangers the boys, who are already in frail condition, could face if they are moved from the cave.
Banner / Thumbnail : Thai Navy Seal / Handout via REUTERS