New Delhi [India], Jul 10 (ANI): Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Royal Thai Embassy in India Apirat Sugondhabhirom on Tuesday expressed his gratitude to India for offering its assistance in the ongoing rescue operations of the members of a Wild Boars soccer team stranded in a flooded cave in northern Thailand.
Speaking exclusively to ANI, Apirat said, "I would like to thank India for offering its help. The Royal Thai Embassy has been receiving many messages from our Indian friends caring for our children trapped in the cave. The gesture that India has shown to us will not be forgotten."
The Indian embassy in Bangkok informed the Thai authorities that the Kirloskar Brothers, an Indian company with expertise in pumping and flood management, can help drain out excess water from the cave, said Apirat in the interview.
"The (Thai) Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked for the generous offer and have conveyed this to the interior ministry. We will not forget this help," Apirat noted.
He clarified that there were no Indian companies or professionals engaged in the rescue operations as of now. He however added that the Thai government was seriously considering to employ the Kirloskar Brothers.
Explaining the difficulties and challenges of the operations, Apirat underscored that weather, water and the physical condition of the stranded boys and the coach were the key factors kept in mind during the entire exercise.
"Within the (Tham Luang) cave complex, the passages inside are totally submerged in water due to rains. The monsoon is coming soon. We are racing against time. It's been raining on and off for the last two weeks. The weather has cleared a bit now. The rescue operations led by the Chiang Rai Governor has been doing a good job," he said.
Explaining how the team ended up being trapped inside the Tham Luang cave, Apirat said that the boys were planning a surprise birthday party and had ventured inside the cave. He, however, clarified that it was not the first time a soccer team group had visited the risky cave.
As heavy rains pounded, the boys were forced to go further deeper to escape the rising water levels and were ultimately trapped.
"On July 2, the British divers found them. We came to know about this. The boys were looking hungry and very weak. Luckily, they were carrying provisions. The original plan of the group was not to go down deep inside the cave. But, unfortunately, on and off rains played spoilsport," Apirat recalled.
He informed that eight boys have been rescued in the last two days. They are recovering at the Chiang Rai Hospital. The third series of rescue operations were underway to retrieve the remaining five members of the soccer team.
Apirat continued, "Many of our international friends are actively cooperating with us in the rescue operations. Divers from Laos, Myanmar, Belgium, China, Israel and also Thailand having expertise in diving and pumping out excess water from the cave are all contributing in the operation. We are grateful to that."
He lamented that during the operations, a "heroic and brave" diver had died, who was previously from the Royal Thai Navy.
Apirat further said that a team of doctors and divers were taking turns to stay with the stranded group.
Asked whether the Thai government required an immediate help, he said that everything was under control and the teams were doing their jobs without any problems.
Praising the coach of the Wild Boars football team, Apirat said, "Previously, he was a Buddhist monk. He has used the knowledge of meditation. With this, he kept a cool head and managed to calm the boys down. He even told them to meditate, saying that help would always come. When the British divers found them, the children were not panicking. They were calm with no signs of fear."
Calling it a "very difficult operation", Apirat prayed for the safety of the remaining five persons and the divers and hoped that a good news would come at the end of the day. (ANI)