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Tham Luang hero, cave rescue saga commemorated on 4th anniversary


On June 23, four years ago, 12 school footballers, then aged 11 to 16, entered the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non Cave in Chiang Rai with their 25-year-old assistant coach and were trapped inside, leading to an over two-week-long intense rescue operation, which included international divers.

During the operation, Saman Kunan, 37, a former Royal Thai Navy SEAL member, died and he became the Tham Luang hero.

On Wednesday, the former Wild Boar footballers returned to the front of the cave in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district to remember their hero and commemorate the rescue drama in a show of gratitude to all the people who saved their lives in 2018.

The rite to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the event was held in front of the cave and was presided over by Dr Chaweewan Khampha, president of the Poultry Promotion Association of Thailand.

Apart from the former footballers, who have grown up into young men, local people and Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non National Park officials also joined the rites.

One of the rites was to make an offering to the Chao Mae Nang Nong spirit, a female spirit believed by local people to guard the cave complex and other sacred objects in the cave.

The participants also gave alms to 39 Buddhist monks and there was a traditional rite to bless the survivors to live long.

Tham Luang hero, cave rescue saga commemorated on 4th anniversary Four years since the gripping rescue drama, the authorities have changed the landscape in front of the cave with a cement ground and cement stairway leading to the front of the cave.

A statue of Saman has also been erected in front of the cave. The authorities have made a new car park and a tourist service centre with toilet rooms nearby.

Since passages inside the cave complex are flooded during the rainy season, the cave is closed to tourists during the season. The entrance is expected to be reopened on October 1.

Four years ago, the Wild Boar team entered the cave as usual after their football practice but shortly afterwards, heavy rainfall partially flooded their way out, trapping them deep within.

Tham Luang hero, cave rescue saga commemorated on 4th anniversary Efforts to locate the group were hampered by rising water levels and strong currents, and no contact was established with them for nearly two weeks. The rescue efforts expanded in scope and drew worldwide public interest.

The boys were found alive by two foreign divers on July 2.

Saman died of asphyxiation during an attempted rescue on July 6 while returning to a staging base in the cave after delivering diving cylinders.

All the 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave by an international team of divers between July 8 and 10.

Published : June 23, 2022

By : THE NATION