BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK)- Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday (July 11) made a televised address to thank all the people who had contributed to the eventual success of the rescue mission to free 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand.
The group of 13 were rescued in three groups from the Tham Luang cave after being trapped inside the 10km-long cave for more than two weeks. The first group of four was rescued on Sunday, following by a second group of four on Monday and the last five were freed on Tuesday (July 10).
In the speech which lasted 3.45 minutes, he extended his "sincerest gratitude" to all who had been involved in the 17-day operation, including volunteers, government officials, private companies and the media, as well as the moral support given by people from across the world.
"Although the mission has been accomplished, images of people from all walks of life coming together to lend their helping hands, regardless of race or religious belief, will remain with all of us forever," the premier said.
"In times of crisis, when Thai people are faced with hardship, His Majesty the King and the Royal Family have always expressed concern and closely observed the situation, and have graciously provided direct assistance to all officials involved, with constant encouragement and guidance to the rescue mission," he went on.
"This is indeed a blessing for the Thai people."
He also recalled the sacrifice of 38-year-old Petty Officer First Class Samarn Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL diver, who volunteered and lost his life during the operation.
Prayut said Saman's legacy "will forever be in our hearts".