Boys pen heartfelt notes to parents from inside cave

Thai navy divers inside the cave, in a photo released by the Royal Thai Navy. Rescuers have established a line to pump in fresh air and have withdrawn nonessential workers to preserve oxygen levels. Rescuers in the flooded cave in a photo released by
Rescuers in the flooded cave in a photo released by the Royal Thai Navy yesterday. With a narrowing window before torrential rains hit, and a possible rise in carbon dioxide in the complex, rescuers are racing against time.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A note from inside the cave reads: "What we want to communicate: The kids say don't be worried about them. All of them are strong. They would like to eat many different kinds of foods when they come out and teachers, please don't give them too much h
Thai navy divers inside the cave, in a photo released by the Royal Thai Navy. Rescuers have established a line to pump in fresh air and have withdrawn nonessential workers to preserve oxygen levels. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Thai navy divers inside the cave, in a photo released by the Royal Thai Navy. Rescuers have established a line to pump in fresh air and have withdrawn nonessential workers to preserve oxygen levels. Rescuers in the flooded cave in a photo released by
A note from inside the cave reads: “What we want to communicate: The kids say don’t be worried about them. All of them are strong. They would like to eat many different kinds of foods when they come out and teachers, please don’t give them too much homework.” PHOTO: EPA–EFE

Governor says next few days offer best chance to rescue the boys before torrential rains hit

Two weeks into their ordeal, members of a youth football team trapped in an underground cave in northern Thailand exchanged heartfelt messages with their loved ones while officials battled against water and time to get them out alive.

Most of the boys put on a brave face, in an attempt to reassure their families desperately waiting for them outside Tham Luang cave.

"Father and mother, please don't worry about me. I am fine. Please take me to eat fried chicken after this. I love you," said the youngest boy, Chanintr Wiboonroongruang, 11, in his handwritten note yesterday.

"I'm safe, please don't worry. I love father and mother and everyone," wrote Prajak Sutham, 14, in his note published by the Thai navy Seals on their Facebook page.

Several messages mentioned what the boys hope to do once they get out, like eating their favourite food. One promised he would help his mum in her work when he can.

"Please don't give too much homework," they also told their teachers.

Mr Ekkapol Chantawong, 25, the assistant coach who accompanied the 12 boys into the cave after their football practice on June 23, apologised to the boys' families.

  • KIDS' NOTES

  • Father and mother, please don't worry about me. I am fine. Please take me to eat fried chicken after this. I love you.

    CHANINTR WIBOONROONGRUANG, 11 (Titan)

  • I love you mum and dad , and I want to eat barbecue pork.

    PIPAT POTIAYU, 15 (Nick)

  • Don't worry about me, dad and mum. I'll be away for just two weeks. I'll help you, mum, sell goods when I have time. I'll rush out of here.

    EKARAT WONGSUKJAN, 14 (Bew)

 

"The children are all right. The rescue team is taking good care of them. I promise I will look after your children to the best of my ability. Thank you for your support. I want to also sincerely apologise to all of the parents."

The parents told him he should not blame himself for what happened. "We are not mad at you at all. We understand and are rooting for you," one message said.

The parents of Adul Sam-On, 14, told their child they will keep praying for his safe return. "We want to see your face. We have prayed for you and your friends so that we might see you soon... Do not worry. We will wait until you are out."

Outgoing Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is leading the rescue efforts, said yesterday that they may have the best chance to free the group in the next three to four days.

With a narrowing window before torrential rains hit the area - reversing efforts to drain floodwaters - and a possible rise in carbon dioxide inside the complex, they face a greater urgency to make a decision soon.

"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are perfect (for evacuation) in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health," he said.

He said the boys have been given high-protein, high-energy food and "can communicate clearly and joke and play among themselves".

"We have to make a clear decision on what we can do," he added, noting that they cannot wait too long because of the rain forecast this week. Mr Narongsak said the water levels from the cave entrance to chamber three - where the rescue base is - is currently low enough for personnel to walk through.

But the water level from chamber three to the T-junction all the way to where the boys are is still high.

"During the peak of the rainy season, we are worried that the area where the boys are can be inundated or can be reduced to just 10 sq m," Mr Narongsak said.

Rescuers have managed to establish a line to pump in fresh air into the cave network and have withdrawn non-essential workers to preserve oxygen levels inside.

Mr Narongsak's comments came a day after the death of a former Thai navy diver highlighted the dangers involved in any attempt to evacuate the group through flooded passageways.

More than 100 shafts are being drilled into the mountainside in a frantic bid to reach their location - said to be up to 1km below the surface - through another route.

"Some (of the shafts) are as deep as 400m... but they still cannot find their location yet," Mr Narongsak told reporters, adding that the mission lacked the technology "to pinpoint where they are".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 08, 2018, with the headline 'Boys pen heartfelt notes to parents from inside cave'. Print Edition | Subscribe