Thailand cave rescue: Football coach sends note apologising to parents of trapped boys

Handwritten letters from boys also brought out by divers as rescue operation continues to be debated

Saturday 07 July 2018 15:46 BST
Thai cave rescue: Trapped football coach apologises to parents

The football coach trapped in a Thai cave with 12 of his young players has apologised to their parents as the boys sent out notes to loved ones on the outside world.

“Right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care,” wrote Ekapol Chanthawong in a handwritten letter brought out by divers. “I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologise to the parents.”

The 12 boys – aged between 11 and 16 – and their 25-year-old coach were exploring the cave in the Chiang Rai region when they became trapped by flash flood waters on 23 June. Specially-trained divers reached them on Monday but no plan has yet been agreed on how to rescue the group from the complex and partly submerged tunnel system.

A former Thai Navy Seal diver Saman Gunan died while coming back from taking oxygen tanks to the boys on Thursday.

The series of letters from the group were handed to British divers on Friday and released on a Thai navy Facebook page on Saturday.

“Don’t worry, we are all strong,” one child said in a note, and joked: “Teacher, don’t give us lots of homework!”

Another said: “I’m doing fine, but the air is a little cold but don’t worry. Although don’t forget to set up my birthday party.”

Several of the boys appear in good enough spirits to suggest mums and dads cook them their favourite meal when they get out.

The letters are the first means of communication between the team – called the Wild Boars – and their families since attempts to establish a phone line inside the cave failed earlier this week.

The coach’s own message is the first time he has spoken publicly since facing criticism for taking the young boys into the cave – apparently as part of a ritual challenge – during the monsoon season.

Responding to his apology, several parents made it clear they do not hold him responsible.

Writing on the local government’s Facebook page, one said: “Mums and dads are not angry at you. Thank you for helping take care of the kids.”

Another wrote: “Tell Coach Ake: Don’t think too much. We are not angry at him.”

The boys are currently on a rock shelf in a small chamber of the Tham Luang cave system about 2.5 miles from the mouth. A huge international military and civilian operation attempting to bring them back to safety was given fresh urgency on Saturday when it was revealed oxygen levels may be falling.

But, with the only way to reach the team being via dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, any rescue will be potentially deadly – both for the boys and for the rescuers themselves.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in