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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat David48atTD's Avatar
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    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned

    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9940060-3x2-700x467-jpg

    This is an extract from a book written about the rescue by Liam Cochrane, the ABC's South-East Asia correspondent.

    It's a long OP and portrays the rescue in a different light.
    I thought it was an interesting 'behind the scenes' look and didn't want to see it buried on p59 of https://teakdoor.com/thailand-and-asi...otballers.html

    ---

    When the British divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen and caver Rob Harper arrived at Chiang Rai Airport, there was an awkward moment.
    Someone had made up a banner — something about them being the best cave divers in the world — and the three were asked to stand in front of it for a photo.
    They did so, reluctantly; it was not the sort of claim these modest men would make and they were wasting time.
    But they'd just arrived and didn't want to be rude.

    They had a briefing at the airport with Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn. The divers asked about the weather forecast and whether any of the boys had pre-existing medical conditions, and were surprised when that information was not known.

    One thing was made clear to them though: the military was in charge of the diving operation.

    There were several government departments involved in getting the British divers to Thailand, and each agency had sent cars to drive the three cave rescue divers to Tham Luang, about 60 kilometres away.
    So in the end it was a convoy of about 10 vehicles that sped down the highway that Wednesday evening.
    They got to the cave about 8pm.

    But after an urgent flight across the world and a race to the cave, the British divers were puzzled to be left to fend for themselves.
    "We arrived on site and we were abandoned," John said.

    "We had no real introductions, nothing. On that day, it was utter chaos, with people everywhere … we were effectively left to our own devices."

    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9955556-3x2-940x627-jpg
    Richard Stanton, left, and John Volanthen arrive in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai in northern Thailand on July 3, 2018


    Hostility from local rescuers


    They found Vern Unsworth, who took them to meet the diving supervisor, a military man stationed in the cave mouth. The entrance was theatrically lit, glowing orange from the metre-wide spherical lamp and other smaller lights.
    The soccer team's bikes still leaned against the hand-rail, a powerful reminder of the lives at stake. Below, hundreds of people swarmed around the cavern.

    The first meeting between the SEALs and the British experts did not go well. The commandos had been working hard, well beyond their comfort zone, and bristled at the idea that John and Rick, "two middle-aged men" (John's words), could do something they couldn't.


    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9977174-3x2-940x627-jpg
    Rescue workers walking towards cave, a huge operation was launched to rescue the Wild Boars and their coach.


    "There was significant tension," John said. "We had no rank, we had no sway … As much as we didn't know how to communicate with the military, they didn't know how to communicate with us either."

    Inside Chamber 3, the water level was now rising about 30 centimetres every 10 minutes.
    The military had ordered that all diving be suspended due to the dangerous conditions.

    "The SEAL team didn't allow them to go in," said Pae (Ruengrit Changkwanyuen). "It was bad enough that the issue escalated up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Eventually, Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yuukongkaew [the top SEAL commander] said, 'Just let them go.'

    "Someone muttered (referring to British Cave Rescue Team a Thai (presumably a Thai SEAL)), 'If they die in there, don't expect us to retrieve their bodies'."

    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9957012-3x2-940x627-jpg
    Military personnel gather as they prepare to go in to Tham Luang cave complex



    Water rising

    Vern and Rob helped carry the air cylinders in with Rick and John. Almost a kilometre along, they came to an arch followed by a dip that was about waist deep. Rob helped them through the half-filled sump, into the forward operating base the military had set up in Chamber 3.

    The water was rising up the cave wall, and Rob returned through the rapidly filling S-bend, so he wouldn't get trapped without diving gear. The SEALs and other Thais inside hurried to clear Chamber 3.

    By the time John and Rick had their tanks and masks on, the lowest point of the cave had fully flooded.
    They dived into the sump and laid a line back through as a guide, securing their exit in case conditions worsened. The 4-millimetre-thick polypropylene material was similar to nylon but non-absorbent, with neutral buoyancy and strong when wet.

    It was the first in a series of guide lines through the cave that would come to play a crucial role in the diving operation.


    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9933652-3x2-940x627-jpg
    Rescue teams search for the missing boys

    "We stopped that night, because it was very clear the cave was flooding," John said.
    The British divers emerged after midnight, re-joining Vern and Rob on the other side of the flooded dip.
    As they walked out, Vern predicted the cave would flood to the entrance in about four hours. It did exactly that, prompting an urgent evacuation of everyone inside the cave.


    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9962118-3x2-940x627-jpg
    The dark cave has been flooded with rain water, posing an even greater challenge for rescuers.



    'This is surreal'

    Earlier, before dawn that Wednesday, Major Charles Hodges got a call from his director of operations. They were stationed on the Okinawa military base, as part of the US Indo-Pacific Command.
    "Awesome," he thought. "That's exactly the type of mission that we want to be called up for."

    Hours later, a team of about 30 personnel from the Special Tactics Squadron at the Japanese base were loading up an MC-130 transport plane.

    The Americans arrived at Tham Luang about 1am on Thursday and immediately assessed the situation, walking in as far as the floodwaters would allow.
    "So we go into the cave, and it was completely dark. I'm walking in thinking this is so surreal," Captain Jessica Tait, an Air Force public affairs officer, told Four Corners. She would become the face of the US mission over the coming days.

    "It's so dark. A few of us had headlamps. I did not, so I'm trying to tag along as close as I can to some of the other members of the team.

    "But I could just sense, like, oh my gosh, there's 12 children and a coach in here, and I'm just in the entrance way and I'm spooked out."


    Hunger, darkness and fear

    The team's coach, Ek, was also starting to get spooked by the grim situation they found themselves in.
    "The most worrying things for us were the darkness, the water and hunger. The water kept rising all the time. The darkness limited our awareness of whether we could survive in this shelter.

    Hunger was a big obstacle. When everyone was so hungry, it could cause conflict with each other."

    Then a dark thought entered his mind.
    "Imagine if all this led to eating your friends, eating your own people."

    He laughed at the paranoia that had seeped into the dank cave. It must never come to that. They knew someone was looking for them, they just had to be patient and stay alive.


    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9933788-3x2-940x627-jpg
    The boys were trapped in total darkness



    More frustration for the Brits

    The British team dragged their jetlagged bodies back to the cave about 10am on Thursday to try again.
    One thing about their appearance immediately stood out: the inner tube that Rick wore as a buoyancy device. He called it his "lucky wing".
    It had been part of his kit on several successful rescues and had become something of a lucky talisman, as well as an in-joke.
    But to anyone who didn't know these cavers, it may have branded them as amateurs. (When another diver saw it his first thought was: "These guys are going to get themselves killed.")

    That morning, it was a struggle for Rick and John to even get into the water. They had already been delayed once, when they were asked to move their air compressor away from a building in which meetings were being held.
    They'd just set it up again, when the compressor fell silent. It was out of petrol.


    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9955562-3x2-940x627-jpg
    John Volanthen, centre, and Richard Stanton talk to rescue team personnel in Thailand.

    It was a frustrating moment. These divers had pulled off some of the toughest cave rescues in history and had flown across the world to help, only to be thwarted by a few litres of gas.

    Everyone around them looked busy and nobody seemed to care. But then a man wearing a yellow nametag — discreetly marking him as a representative of the King — approached to ask if they needed anything.
    A supply run to a local petrol station was arranged.

    Rick and John finally dived into the first murky pool about 11am.

    There were now three separate flooded sections before Chamber 3 — a 15-metre sump, another about 10 metres long and the S-bend, which now involved about five metres of diving.

    The water was pulsating, the result of it being forced with considerable pressure through narrow passages and into more open "swirl chambers" like Chamber 3, creating thrumming eddies as it continued to rise.


    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9953986-3x2-940x627-jpg
    3D Graphic of Tham Luang cave system in Thailand, where a soccer team is trapped.



    Finally, movement in the dark

    The British divers surfaced and in the darkness they sensed movement. For a moment they thought they'd found the Wild Boars.
    But as their lights focused, they were astonished to find four men — Thais from one of the pumping teams.

    They'd been working in the cave for two days and on Wednesday had decided to take a nap in a quiet corner of the large sandy chamber.


    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9962128-3x2-940x627-jpg
    Thai soldiers wrestle with pipes used to get water out of the cave.

    "When I woke up I thought to myself, 'Why is the cave half-flooded?' So I ran out to look towards the entrance," said Surapin Chaichompoo, the president of the Thai Well Water Association, in an interview later. "I looked back and ran to the high mound where we were sleeping. It turned out everyone had gone and it was only the four of us left. I told my guys, 'Wake up, wake up'."

    Somehow, in the rushed evacuation, nobody had noticed the missing men
    They spent the night inside Chamber 3, hoping that the water level would go down and they could escape. On Thursday morning, the men heard clanking sounds from the water. Surapin threw a rock towards the sound, trying to attract attention.

    The clanking got louder but there was no human response. So he threw another rock. Then he saw torchlight under the water and the divers surfaced.
    The foreigners were stunned.
    "OK, oh my god," one said, according to Surapin.



    Rescuing the rescuers

    The British divers had to temporarily abandon their search for the Wild Boars while they rescued the rescuers.

    They took it in turns."I put one guy under my arm and then essentially dragged them out through one sump," said John, "then returned with my mask and Rick and I swapped."

    The Thais tried to assist, swimming in the right direction, as the British divers held them with one hand while the other hand felt along the line they had installed the previous evening. But any movement by the men was counterproductive.
    "We both realised how difficult it was to do that [even] with people who were trying to help, over a short sump," said John.

    It took up precious time, but they had no choice — these, too, were lives that needed saving.


    Military hushes up the rescue


    Bizarrely, the Thai military initially tried to deny the incident, even to the divers who had just experienced it.
    "They categorically said, 'That didn't happen'," recalled John.

    It was only later, when the American military backed the British divers' story and brought over a senior military man to hear the details, that the Thai top brass begrudgingly admitted that the impromptu rescue had in fact taken place.

    For the four members of the pumping team, there was no doubt about the role John and Rick had played.
    "I really owe my life to these two divers," said Surapin.

    "You have to understand that these foreigners have a bit of crazy in them. They like to do crazy things. But they are very good at diving."
    One of Surapin's colleagues said the close call had a lasting impact: "If you want me to go up a tree, I'll go up a tree … but no caves any more, they're scary."


    Liam Cochrane is ABC's South-East Asia correspondent. His book The Cave is out now.



    Source - search ABC thai-cave-boys-wild-boars-rescue-the-book-thailand-diving/10514970
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9940060-3x2-700x467-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9955556-3x2-940x627-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9977174-3x2-940x627-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9957012-3x2-940x627-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9933652-3x2-940x627-jpg  

    Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9962118-3x2-940x627-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9933788-3x2-940x627-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9955562-3x2-940x627-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9953986-3x2-940x627-jpg   Thai Cave rescue - what really happenned-9962128-3x2-940x627-jpg  

    “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”

  2. #2
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    The usual Thai bashing bollocks, playing to his target market in order to sell books. The smart educated, competent westerners rescuing the disorganised savages from themselves.

    Personally I thought everybody, including the Thais, did a great job considering the very difficult circumstances ...with the exception of Elon Musk's ego gate crashing the party.

    No mention of Musk's shenanigans ...that would piss off the Musk fanboys which are part of his target market, not conducive to selling books

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    why is telling the truth about incompetent and face saving Thai nonsense always labeled 'bashing'? If not for the foreign help those kids would most probably all be dead.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly94 View Post
    why is telling the truth about incompetent and face saving Thai nonsense always labeled 'bashing'? If not for the foreign help those kids would most probably all be dead.
    Yep, and why is retelling already-told news playing the target market for book sales? For example, it did come out in the news that the Brits had to rescue 4 Thai resuers before the Brits could get on with the main job. It took a while to come out in the media, but it was reported.

    Pointing out the obvious failings during the entire escapade is not Thai-bashing. Facing the facts is simply what it is, despite that it raised the ire of some members here.

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    I find it incredibly brilliant that some body high up on the Thai side (this person/people deserve some credit ) decided, fuck face, we can't do it so lets get people in and save these kids. No need to rub the Thais noses in it though. I'm surprised the Brits didn't get more on site resistance.

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    I agree.

    I think many young members of any military would look at middle aged civilians and wonder if they are up to the big challenges at hand. They'd swing around when they see that they are and that's presumably what happened here.

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    Thailand Expat Latindancer's Avatar
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    They must have looked at the "middle-aged civilians" a bit differently after that Thai SEAL died.

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    I am pretty sure the foreigners were involved in this, in case the rescue wasn't successful and then they could blame it all on the foreigners saying how they stop real Thai from saving those kids

    they are truely incompetent,

    putting hundreds of people on site doing basically nothing, reminds me here of construction sites, where one guy is working while 12 are watching

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
    where one woman is working while 12 guys are watching
    FTFY.

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    Accuse me of bashing if it suits, but it appeared throughout that the Thais played this drama out as a photo op, a rescue mission with its gamut of logistics planned and executed by Thai experts, which only non-Thais are capable of noticing were absent from the scene.

    As others have said, if they were left to their own devices those kids would be dead, along with random Thai SEAL teams that our glorious leaders would throw at the problem with increasing fervour in the hope that something broke in their favour.

    The single unforgivable detail of a compressor running out of gas, imo describes crisp and clear what one should expect in any serious endeavour conducted by Thais. There is no shame in calling for quality assistance from the international community, but great shame in having and not using it.

    Disclaimer: This does not imply that all Thais are inferior to all farangs in every respect, but here they could have done better.

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
    I am pretty sure the foreigners were involved in this, in case the rescue wasn't successful and then they could blame it all on the foreigners saying how they stop real Thai from saving those kids

    they are truely incompetent,

    putting hundreds of people on site doing basically nothing, reminds me here of construction sites, where one guy is working while 12 are watching
    That about the farangs, too!

  12. #12
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    Never underestimate the power of a yellow name tag. Some of them apparently have common sense, and are likely to be more secure in letting others do their job as compared to a military guy.

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    absolutely, at least when you have a certain "organization" on your side, you can be sure it will work

    without that organization, this country would really be lost, because they are the only ones that seem competent

    the military is a total joke, and we see it clearly when they try to be a government

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabir View Post
    Disclaimer: This does not imply that all Thais are inferior to all farangs in every respect, but here they could have done better.
    But with an ave IQ of 91 they are significantly stupider than most westerners and other Asians. Rag heads and Africans are the dumbest, but the Thais are not very bright and common sense, if it could be measured, would be pretty dismal as well.

    https://brainstats.com/average-iq-by-country.html

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    The disclaimer was for the benefit of our resident extremists that tend to pick up a ball and run toward the nearest goal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabir View Post
    The single unforgivable detail of a compressor running out of gas, imo describes crisp and clear what one should expect in any serious endeavour conducted by Thais.
    Nothing "single" about it. How about...
    Quote Originally Posted by David48atTD View Post
    They had a briefing at the airport with Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn. The divers asked about the weather forecast and whether any of the boys had pre-existing medical conditions, and were surprised when that information was not known.
    This, the guy in charge for a week.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    Never underestimate the power of a yellow name tag. Some of them apparently have common sense, and are likely to be more secure in letting others do their job as compared to a military guy.
    I think you have put your finger on the real reason things got done. As much as I hate to give credit to someone who I have no respect for...the orders from the top were what lubricated things.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly94 View Post
    why is telling the truth about incompetent and face saving Thai nonsense always labeled 'bashing'? If not for the foreign help those kids would most probably all be dead.
    Indeed...

  19. #19
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    the top always knows how the military is going to fuck up, because they always do

  20. #20
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    Got a red from Neverna, he must think Thai geng mark na

  21. #21
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    ...as we can see from the replies, Liam Cochrane has weighed his target demographic perfectly. Kerching!!!!

    Notice how they wail about truth and facts but step over my point about Musk's much publicised ego meltdown going unmentioned. All the criticism is aimed squarely at the Thais(but its not Thai bashing honest guv).

  22. #22
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly94 View Post
    Thai geng mark na
    :cringe:

    I bet you do the pidgin English thing when talking to Thais too, right?

  23. #23
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    ^ I bet you do too.

  24. #24
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    And err...I bet you do too.


  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    :cringe:

    I bet you do the pidgin English thing when talking to Thais too, right?
    why would you want to speak perfect English to a bunch of third worlders?

    do you use your Shakespeare prose and accent when you talk to the chimps in the zoo, you pretentious knob

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