People all over the world must have shared the jubilation and feeling of relief the parents and relatives of 13 missing members of a soccer team in Thailand. That is following the announcement that rescuers have reached their location and that all of them are safe.
Together with their coach in the Wild Boar Soccer team the 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16 years old, the Tham Luang Nan Non cave system on June 23 but were apparently trapped when a sudden downpour flooded the chambers of the cave.
Concern for their safety was raised when they did not return home as expected. Initial search found a pair of soccer shoes and bike.
Amid the threat of a continuing downpour, the Thai rescuers worked round the clock to locate the missing children.
The saga of the Thai soccer team eventually attracted international attention and after several days of fruitless search, international assistance came one after another.
A team from the US military’s Pacific Command and expert British cavers and divers arrived on the scene on June 27. Six Chinese experts came next on June 29 while the six-man team sent by Australia arrived the next day.
The international cooperation paid off. On July 2, after nine days of agonizing search, the rescuers announced the boys and their coach were found around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters and one kilometer below the surface.
Despite this, the danger is not over yet. The 13-member soccer team is still trapped as the passage out of the cavern is still flooded. In the meantime, the rescuers intend to bring them food and water as well as a nurse and a doctor to look after them.
Elated by the news the 13 missing persons were found alive and safe, Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, said the incident has shown the unity of the Thai people. It was perfectly understandable.
But it was a lot more than just one nation’s show of unity.
It was another sobering reminder as to how such an emergency, or a disaster, can unite people and nations, despite their differences – no politics, no national interest to think of, just pure desire to help each other save lives.
The last phase of the operation to save the 13 trapped persons may prove to be the most difficult. Rescuers are trying to pump the water out of the flooded passage ways in a bid to make a safe exit.
But if such effort proves futile, the boys and their coach may have to dive out of the cave to finally reach safety. Preparations are now being made to teach the trapped boys to dive.
However, it would not be any ordinary dive. It would be in muddy waters, that would deprive anybody of any sense of direction. It’s a situation that could prove disastrous even for an experienced cave diver.
Amid this danger, the Thai people can be sure the rest of the world are united with them in the hope of bringing back the children and their coach safely back in the arms of their waiting families.
Undoubtedly, even people of different faiths must be whispering their prayers for the safety of the 13-member team now enduring isolation in the dark cold bowels of a cave in Thailand.