Trapped Thai soccer team have written hopeful letters to their parents as time runs out
The 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16 years old, left with their 25-year-old coach on June 23 after soccer practice to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system in Northern Thailand, and with their shoes and backpacks left at the cave entrance as the system flooded, the group had been feared dead.
Last week, two British divers with experience in cave rescues alongside a team of Thai Navy SEAL divers found the soccer team on an elevated outcrop, starving, but only with minor injuries. That being said, there is still a long way to go before the team can be rescued, and with more rain expected, the task of getting them out alive has become even more hazardous.
As a nation holds its breath, the young boys have penned letters to their family and loved ones, expressing feelings of hope. The Navy SEALs who are down with them posted the letters to Facebook, and as the rescue effort intensifies, these messages of stand defiant against the increasing time pressure.
"To my grandma, I'm ok, I'm fine. Don't worry about me too much. And take care of yourself. Auntie, tell grandma to cook numpak (a vegetable dish) and pork skin for me. When I get out I will go to eat. Love you guys," said Ake, the 25-year-old coach of the Wild Boars soccer team to his relatives, and it's just one of many letters involving food.
One boy named Nick wrote to his family: "Mum, Dad, Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings. If I can get out, Mum, Dad please bring me mu kratha [a type of BBQ pork] to eat... Nick loves Mum, Dad and siblings," while another named Tan said: "Mum and Dad don't worry about me, I'm fine. Tell my brother to be ready to bring me fried chicken. Love you."
There's also a joint message from Ake and the 12 boys to the outside world: "The kids say don't worry. We are all strong. When they come out they want to eat many things. When they come out they want to go back home immediately. Teacher, don't give us lots of homework!"
At a press conference to discuss the rescue effort, local governor Narongsak Osatanakorn says that recent efforts to drain the cave system of water had so far been “very successful”, but as carbon dioxide levels inside the complex continue to rise, Osatanakorn says that the soccer team have only three to four days to be rescued.
“[The next] three to four days from now is the most favourable time for the operation and rescue mission using one of the action plans,” Osatanakorn revealed at a press conference at the cave site. Osatanakorn said that while the boys hadn't eaten for some time, they had been given meals with special proteins in order to help them to stay energetic.“If we wait too long, we don’t know how much rainwater will come.”