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“How many are you?” Asked a rescuer.
– “13”, they responded.
– “13? Excellent”.
This was the first dialogue of a couple of British rescuers with the 12 teenagers and their football coach who were missing in a cave in Thailand since June 23.
In a video posted on Facebook by the special operations forces of the Thai Navy, you can hear the dialogue in English.
The group seems to ask when they will be removed from there and one of the rescuers responds: “No, not today, we are only two, we have to dive, we will come back, all right, many people will come, we are the first ones”.
“Food, food, food, tell them we’re hungry,” the voice of one of the boys is heard.
At some point in the conversation, group members ask what day it is. Then, the divers stop and one of them responds: “Monday, Monday, they have been here … 10 days, you are very strong”.
The youngsters, between 11 and 16 years old, had gone with their coach to the cave Tham Luang NangNon , the fourth largest in the country, on June 23 after a training session .
It is believed that they were trapped because of the torrential rains, which caused the fall of a torrent of water inside the cave.
Now the challenge of the authorities is to get them out of there.
“So far only found them . The next mission is to get them out of the cave and send them to cas to , ” said provincial governor of Chiang Rai, Narongsak Osottanakorn.
The team was safe in a cavity where they could breathe and shelter from the water accumulated by the heavy rains of recent days.
Doctors and nurses dived to the place where the children and their trainer were to check their physical condition.
“If the doctors say that their physical condition is strong enough to be evacuated, they will be taken out of the cave,” said Osottanakorn.
“We will take care of them until they can return to school.”
An international rescue team
The situation of young people had attracted attention internationally and more than a thousand people participated in the efforts to rescue them, some from China, Myanmar, Laos, Australia and the United States , explains Nopporn Wong-Anan of the Thai service of the BBC.
The cave where they are located is located in the northern province of Chiang Rai and is a tourist attraction that extends for more than 6 km underground near the border with Myanmar.
According to a tourist guide cited by Time magazine , it is only accessible between November and June, that is, when it is not the rainy season.
It is known that the assistant coach, Ekkapol Janthawong, 25 years old, took the youngsters occasionally to excursions.
In fact, they had visited that same cave two years ago.
The youngest member of the club, Chanin “Titan” Wibrunrungrueang, is 11 years old and started playing football at age 7.
Duangpet “Dom” Promtep, 13, is the captain of the team and is said to be the motivator of the group.
The head coach, Nopparat Kantawong, had not joined this tour, but he was confident that they would all come out of this situation together.
“I think they will not abandon each other … They will take care of each other,” he told reporters a few days ago.
An inspiring achievement
By Jonathan Head, BBC News, Tham Luang
At the entrance to the cave, there are scenes of jubilation , interrupted only by the noise of the generators of the water pumps and the air tanks for the dozen divers whose persistence, in the hardest conditions, was worth it.
Now the authorities must find a way to get them out. The priority is to send them medical assistance and food , so that they recover their strength.
The whole country has been awaiting each step of this operation, holding its breath in the face of the increasingly distant possibility of a happy ending.
They are not yet out but this is an inspiring breakthrough after the Thai government devoted all its efforts to trying to save the lives of these children.