Politically fractured Thailand comes together over effort to save boys trapped in cave

World Today

In northern Thailand, crews are racing against time to rescue a youth sports team trapped in a cave.

Twelve boys and their coach have been trapped for almost two weeks by flooded tunnels. Officials are trying to get them out before more rain arrives this weekend.

The rescue effort has helped unite the country despite its fierce political divisions. CGTN’s Rian Maelzer has details.

At the entrance to the Chiang Rai cave, a tent town has sprung up to cater to the needs of family members, those assisting in the rescue, and the media.

Here the factors that have so often divided Thailand’s political affiliation, region, religion, and class have been put aside. People volunteer to keep everyone comfortable, healthy, fed, and supplied, whether they need batteries, anti-fungal creams or underwear.

“We’ve got a lot of medical and other essential supplies here we are giving away for free,” said one woman wearing the yellow scarf of the royalists. “The items were donated by government offices and also by the public.”

Several people have volunteered to shuttle rescuers and media into the site, even though, like this farmer, they themselves struggle to make a living.

“I’m here to do what I can because these boys were from a football team playing all over the area, so the people around here, we all know them,” said one local man.

It’s not just Thais that have come together in their desire to help. Specialists and rescuers from several countries including China have converged here.”

“I feel that the cooperation between us is mostly very good, especially the divers,” said Chen Xiaobin, member of a rescue team from China. “We have an international language among the divers, and that makes the cooperation very smooth and effective.”

The efforts of the international volunteers have inspired even more locals to pitch in.

“We are here to get good karma,” explained one woman. “For example, we see people from far away coming to help and so we know that as local people we must help also.”

The gargantuan effort to bring the kids safely out and to support those striving to do that has brought out the best in people, reminding everyone what collective will and spirit can achieve.