Mae Sai, Thailand, July 10: As the last ambulances waited a muddy pathway flanked by lush fields, Thai navy officials confirmed Tuesday that every member of a youth soccer team – 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach – had been extracted from the flooded cave where they have been marooned for more than two weeks.
The jubilant news capped a dramatic search and treacherous three-day rescue mission that captivated the world.
“12 Wild Boars and coach out of the cave. Everyone safe,” the Thai Navy SEALs posted on their Facebook page, referring to the name of the soccer club.
The story of the boys and their novice monk-turned-soccer coach from this small town on the Thai-Myanmar border – remarkably found alive nine days after they went missing June 23 – launched an international rescue effort and intricate planning on how to maneuver all 13 safely through the narrow passageways and ink-black waters.
British, Australian, Chinese and Thai divers led them out, one tethered to each boy and one following from behind. An Australian doctor stationed in the cave has kept a lookout for days, and was among the last to be extracted.
International experts set up rescue communications, while Thai villagers flocked to a muddy rescue site to set up food stalls and massage stations.
The missions were also a race against the weather.
Rescuers had spent days balancing the risk of impending monsoons, which could have flooded the cave once again, and the team’s readiness to embark on the journey out, physically weakened by their ordeal.
The hint of setting sun and blue skies broke through the heavy clouds behind the caves as a helicopter whirred through the sky, carrying the last of the team south to a hospital in nearby Chiang Rai. Thai navy SEALs and a medic who had been stationed with the boys for days, preparing them for their dive, were brought out of the cave soon after.
On Sunday, officials decided they could no longer wait, as conditions were “as perfect as they will be.” Over the next three days, the boys were brought out in groups; four on the first day, four on the second and five on Tuesday.
The boys and the coach were found more than a week after they became stuck on a small, muddy patch deep in the cave’s network of chambers. The world has been rooting for them since, especially after warnings from experts about how much could go wrong in the process of bringing out the young boys, who cannot swim and were weakened by their long ordeal.
Their supporters have included world leaders, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and billionaire inventor Elon Musk, who tasked his team of engineers to build a “kid-sized submarine” made out of rocket parts that will be able to move the young boys through the cave’s narrow passageways. On Monday night, Musk posted on Twitter that he had “just returned’ from the still-flooded cave, with photos of the rescue site where a team of swelling international experts have been working around the clock since the team was found.
“Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future,” he wrote, referring to the “mini-sub” which he has named after the team, the Wild Boars. In an Instagram video, he posted his journey through the pitch-black flooded cave, lit only by a few torch-lights.
Speaking to reporters after the news conference, Narongsak said that while Musk’s technology was “good and sophisticated,” it was “not practical for the mission.”
Doctors attending to the eight boys who have been rescued from the cave in two groups of four on Sunday and Monday say they are generally in good health – an incredible result for the boys who have spent nine days incommunicado, without food, until they were found, and then waited days more before embarking on an hours-long dive that even the most skilled cave divers have described as among the most dangerous they have attempted.
A retired Thai navy SEAL died Friday after he ran out of oxygen while placing compressed-air tanks along the exit route.
“Doctors have treated the boys and now all of them are okay and cheerful, and are talking normally,” said Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, from the Thai Ministry of Public Health. One of the boys initially had a heartbeat that was too slow, and some had low white blood cell counts, but they have since been stabilized. Two have been treated for minor lung infections, doctors added. They were all treated for rabies, in case of bats in the cave, and tetanus, and set up with IV drips.
None of them have fevers, and all are able to eat normal “medical” food, the doctor said, an improvement from the watered-down porridge they were fed when they were first rescued. A nutritionist is monitoring their diet and has recommended that they eat nothing spicy or salty – despite the boys’ cravings for spicy basil pork and rice, and grilled pork.
By Monday evening, the boys were able to joke, laugh, and have normal conversation, doctors said. They are still quarantined away from their parents, who have been able to see them through a glass window but not touch or hug them. The boys, however, were visited Monday evening by Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was kept about two meters away from the boys.
ED imposes Rs 14.4 lakh penalty on Geelani
Srinagar, Mar 22: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday imposed Rs 14.4 lakh penalty, on Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for “illegally” possessing foreign exchange of around $10,000, news agency PTI reported.
After completion of the probe and adjudication proceeding, the ED an order on Wednesday under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), levying the penalty and confiscating forex of $10,000 that was allegedly recovered from Geelani, they said.
The ED will also impose a penalty on Yasin Malik, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and confiscate foreign exchange recovered from him. The adjudication proceedings against Malik are in progress.
On Wednesday, a Delhi court also allowed ED to quiz Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah and others in connection with an alleged funding case.
PDP, NC, PC candidates file nominations for north LS seat
I promise blah, blah, blah…
Srinagar, Mar 22: Members of the three main political parties and an independent candidate Friday submitted their nomination papers for the Lok Sabha seat in north Kashmir, all promising to raise Kashmir issue in the Parliament.
As per the Election Commission of India notification, the last date for filing the nominations for Baramulla Parliamentary seat has been fixed on March 25. The polling will be held on April 11.
On the first day of filing nominations, four candidates submitted theirs on Friday at district development commissioner’s office in Baramulla.
Former trade union leader, Abdul Qayoom Wani submitted the nomination papers to be the Peoples Democratic Party candidate.
Talking to the media after filing the nomination papers, Wani said that PDP was for the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
“We want India, Pakistan, and Kashmiris shall sit together and find a solution to the problem so that the bloodshed is stopped,” Wani said, who joined the PDP in first week of February after voluntarily resigning from government services.
“I will raise the Kashmir issue in the Parliament. Draconian laws have to be abolished. There has to be equitable development of all three regions of the state,” Wani said, adding that he joined the PDP because of its “pro-people policies”.
Wani was accompanied by senior PDP leaders Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Javaid Beigh.
Former minister of the Omar Abdullah-led government, Mohammad Akbar Lone submitted the nomination papers as the National Conference candidate.
“India and Pakistan has to resolve the Kashmir issue to bring peace here. Since 1947, they fought several wars and Kashmir problem is the main reason. There can be no peace in India and Pakistan till Kashmir issue is not solved,” Lone told reporters, claiming he would raise the Kashmir issue in the Parliament.
He said he was “sure” of his win.
“The support of the political parties will be cleared once the election will be over. We hope the NC will emerge victorious in the elections,” he said.
Raja Aijaz Ali of Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference party also filed his nomination papers for the Baramulla-Kupwara Parliamentary seat.
The PC member said that his “aim was to develop the state”.
“My main agenda behind contesting for the Lok Sabha elections is to develop the state. We want the voices of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be heard in the Parliament. I urge people to give us one chance and cast their ballot in favour of me,” he said.
Sajad said if voted to power they will make efforts to develop the region.
“If voted to power, we will raise the issues pertaining to this region in the Parliament. People are very angry with the traditional political parties here. I am sure that we will win these elections. If we win, this will be for the first time when there will be a Kashmiri ambassador in New Delhi,” he said.
He said there would be no improvement in the situation by the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami.
Sajad also clarified that his political quarter will fight independently in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
One independent candidate Suhail Amir also submitted his nomination papers.
Farooq leads NC-Cong campaign in Jmu
Jammu, Mar 22: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Friday led the campaigning of joint Congress-NC candidates and said the alliance was aimed to keep India secular and “save” it from divisive politics.
Vikramaditya Singh, grandson of erstwhile Sadr-e-Riyast senior Congress leader Karan Singh, and former minister Raman Bhalla, who is a joint candidate of the Congress and its alliance partner NC, from Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha seats respectively.
“We have given this sacrifice for one aim – to keep India a secular country and also keep India strong. There is no other goal (in entering into an alliance with the Congress),” Abdullah told reporters here while kickstarting campaigning of the joint candidates.
“To bring country out of this quagmire, we have come together. We ensure you (Congress) our full support,” he said.
Abdullah said the NC has come out to save this country from divisive politics.
“We have come out to save this country from forces (who are dividing the country on the basis of religion) and not to save this state only,” he said.
Farooq said we have to live in this country and strengthen it and its secular ethos which was preached by Mahatma Gandhi.
He asked the Congress candidates to keep an eye on forces about malpractice.
Vikramaditya, while speaking on the occasion, said they will fight at the grass-roots level together to ensure their victory.
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