Thailand to mark boy soccer team's dramatic cave rescue with museum

The rescued Thai boys ordained as novice Buddhist monks walk in procession by the portrait of former Thai Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan (centre) at the Wat Phra That Doi Tung temple on July 25, 2018.
The rescued Thai boys ordained as novice Buddhist monks walk in procession by the portrait of former Thai Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan (centre) at the Wat Phra That Doi Tung temple on July 25, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thai construction workers on Thursday (Aug 2) began building a museum to commemorate the dramatic cave rescue of a boys' soccer team in the northern province of Chiang Rai and the death of one of the divers.

The 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach went missing on June 23 while exploring the cave complex and were rescued more than two weeks later during a perilous three-day mission by foreign and Thai divers that gripped audiences around the world.

Work on the museum began after a traditional Buddhist ceremony on Wednesday at the Tham Luang cave, in which authorities asked for the blessing of local spirits.

The museum, which is expected to take about five months and 10 million baht (S$410,510) to build, is being funded by a Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Chiang Rai native.

"This place will be very beneficial for our country, as it will commemorate the multinational cooperation and the hero who sacrificed his life. Tourists from around the world will visit this place," Chalermchai said.

Thai diver Saman Gunan died after he lost consciousness during a mission to place oxygen tanks deep inside the cave.

A four-metre statue of Saman, currently being sculpted, will be placed in front of the museum.

 
 
 

The museum will also house a 13-metre-long painting, which features rescuers, including the British divers who first found the boys.

Eleven of the boys have been spending time as Buddhist novices to honour Saman. On Saturday, they will leave the temple to return to normal life.