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Rescue at Thai cave ends in triumph: How Weather and more was overcome

Agencies

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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.


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‘10 percent of drug addicts are women’

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jul 18: Inside a drug de-addiction center of SMHS hospital, a well-built 45-year-old woman could well be mistaken for an attendant. Until she tells you how she got trapped in the vortex of drug-abuse.

A mother of two school going children, she in fact exemplifies how the valley’s drug menace is a half told story. It’s been mostly about the men. Among those visiting de-addiction center are homemakers, students, divorcees’ and working women.

Her story of drug addiction is a byproduct of both turmoil and never-ending grief.  She suffered the first blow when one of her brothers died due to illness and the second shocker came when the clashes at an encounter site claimed the life of her second brother two years ago.

 

“I got hooked to drugs two years back when my two brothers passed away. In an attempt to escape the emotional pain, I sought refuge in sedatives first. The dependence became chronic and eventually it led me to heroin,” she said in a heavy voice.

When she felt lonely, she decided to bite the bullet and seek help from doctors though without informing her husband.

“No-one in the family knows about my addiction. Drug-abuse is a known vice. When a woman is doing drugs, it becomes all the more difficult for the men-in-house to accept the fact,” she said with a sigh.

She did not turn up after her first visit to the Center. But the constant withdrawals and fear of dying due to drug-overdose made her seek the following treatment properly.

“I came here a fortnight ago and am determined to come again for follow ups. The worst nightmare of my life should end now,” she said.

Kashmir has in recent years seen a rise in the cases of drug abuse.

Data of drug de-addiction Centre accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that there has been almost 1300 percent increase in the number of patients treated in OPD since April 2016.

Figures reveal that the number of patients treated in OPD were 489 in 2016-2017. The number increased to 3622 in 2017- 2018. The patient load increased to 5113 in 2018-2019. The number of patients treated in OPD in first three months of current financial year is 1095.

In addition, there has been 600 percent increase in the number of patients admitted in the Centre.

Data shows that the number of patients admitted in 2015-2016 was 116. The number increased to 203 in 2015 -2016.  Around 207 were admitted in 2016- 2017 followed by 374 between in 2017-2018. The number increased to 624 in 2018-2019. The patients admitted in first two months of current financial year are 140.

Registrar drug de-addiction centre, SMHS hospital, Dr Salim Yousuf said: “It’s not uncommon for women to get addicted due to easy availability of drugs such as heroin. Nowadays, it has become as easy as ordering pizza.”

Dr Salim noted that 10 percent of the addicts are women. “We are receiving a lot of patients particularly from the regions like Tanghdar and Bijbehara. Now Rajouri and Poonch are also following suit,” he said.

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Wasn’t allowed to take my father’s body, says top Govt official

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 18: A senior official of the Jammu and Kashmir government has alleged that he was stopped while carrying his father’s body back to Srinagar and made to wait for several hours because of the restrictions due to the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

Imtiyaz Wani, director finance PHE/I&FC department narrated his ordeal in a Facebook post to say that if this is what was done to a government official, what must be happening with the commoners.

“All civil rights are subordinate to Amarnath Yatra while moving from Jammu to Kashmir. I am not being allowed to carry forward my father’s dead body. What hell the life of a common Kashmiri is. Inspector Rakesh of J&K Police on yatra duty categorically said the body shall not be allowed (sic),” Imtiyaz wrote on his Facebook account.

 

His ailing father was shifted to Delhi for treatment. He, however, passed away in the hospital. The family was moving back from Delhi to Jammu. They were travelling towards Srinagar in the early hours of Thursday morning when they were halted on their way.

“When we crossed Nagrota after leaving Jammu with my father’s body, I was stopped. I kept pleading with them that I am a senior public servant but they did not pay any heed. It was only after two hours that they let me take my father’s body. The officer kept saying that he has to allow the Yatris and not dead bodies. It is very sad. We are not against the Yatra but does it suspend our civil rights of taking a deceased person home,” said Imtiyaz.

Traffic police in Jammu, however, said that there are no such orders to stop a body from being transported. “There are no such orders,” Joginder Singh, SSP Traffic Jammu was quoted saying by India Today.

There have been several instances when the civilians in the Valley have complained of problems due to restrictions on the movement of vehicles. A few cases of ambulances being stopped have also surfaced.

Complaints have been pouring in on a daily basis that authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have barred civilian traffic on Qazigund-Nashri stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway for few hours every day in order to allow incident-free passage to vehicles carrying Amarnath pilgrims.

However, division commissioner of Kashmir in a recent press briefing said that there was no blanket ban.

“There is no ban on civilian movement during the Amarnath Yatra, only traffic regulation,” Baseer Khan, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir said during a press conference in Srinagar last week.

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WORLD’S RICHEST: Bill Gates toppled by LVMH boss Bernard Arnault

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New Delhi, Jul 18: Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, who has never been ranked below the second spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index has been pushed to the Number 3 rank by Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, aka LVMH.

LVMH pushed Arnault’s net worth to $108 billion. In 2019 alone, Arnault added $39 billion to his fortunes, which is the biggest gain by an individual in all of the 500 people on the list.

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is the still richest man in the world, with a total net worth of $125 billion. Bill Gates stands at Number 3 with net worth of $107 billion. According to Bloomberg, the trio’s collective wealth exceeds the individual market values of almost every company in the S&P 500 Index that has firms like Walmart Inc, Exxon Mobil Corp and Walt Disney Co on its list.

 

It must be mentioned that Gates’ philanthropic endeavours was one of the biggest reasons for his slip in ranking. Gates donated more than $35 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Without that, he would still have been the richest man.

Arnault and his family are among luxury titans who pledged more than $650 million in April for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral after fire ravaged the landmark church. He controls about half of Paris-based LVMH through a family holding company and also owns a 97% stake in Christian Dior, the fashion house founded three years before his birth in 1949.

Arnault entered the luxury-goods market in 1984 by acquiring a textile group that owned Christian Dior. Four years later, he sold the company’s other businesses and used the proceeds to buy a controlling stake in LVMH. His art collection of modern and contemporary paintings includes pieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.

Jeff Bezos’ fortunes saw an uptick despite his divorce with MacKenzie Bezos, which made her the fourth richest woman in the world, according to Bloomberg. MacKenzie Bezos is ranked 22nd with a net worth of $40.3 billion.

The richest woman, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, daughter and heiress of L’Oreal’s Liliane Bettencourt, is at the Number 10 spot. The second richest woman Alice Walton and third richest woman Jacqueline Mars are ranked 15th and 19th on the list.

The richest Indian, Mukesh Ambani is on the 13th spot, with a net worth of $51.8 billion. Azim Premji is the second-richest Indian to be on the list at the 48th rank with $20.5 billion, followed by Shiv Nadar in the 92nd spot and Uday Kotak on the 96th spot.

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