Thailand cave rescue: Boys tell parents ‘don’t worry’ in letters

Group of teenage boys with coachImage copyright Facebook/ekatol
Image caption A Facebook photo shows the coach with some of the missing children

The Thai boys trapped in a cave have exchanged emotional letters with their parents, for the first time since their ordeal began two weeks ago.

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

The team’s coach apologised to parents in a separate letter, but parents wrote that he should not blame himself.

The 12 boys and the coach were exploring the cave when they became trapped by flood waters on 23 June.

The handwritten letters from the group were handed to British divers on Friday and released on the Thai Navy Seal Facebook page on Saturday.

“Don’t worry about me, I’m safe.” a boy nicknamed Pong said.

Another wrote: “Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings. If I can get out, Mum and Dad please bring me mookatha (Thai barbecue) to eat.”

In full: Thai boys’ letters of love and reassurance

In his letter, the 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong said: “Dear all kids’ parents, now all of them are fine, the rescue team is treating us well.

“And I promise I will take care of the kids as best as I can… I also sincerely apologise to the kids’ parents.”

In their letters, posted on the local government’s Facebook page, several parents make clear that they do not blame the coach.

“Mums and dads are not angry at you. Thank you for helping take care of the kids,” one said.

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

It was the first communication since attempts to establish a phone line inside the cave failed earlier this week.

What is the situation inside the cave?

The group were found inside the cave by British rescue divers on Monday, 10 days after they went missing. They were perched on a rock shelf in a small chamber about 4km (2.5 miles) from the cave mouth.

Teams of Thai and international divers have since supplied them with food, oxygen and medical attention.

There are concerns about the falling oxygen level in the chamber, but officials say an air line into the cave has now been installed.

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Media captionNick Beake has been inside a cave complex in Chiang Rai

The danger of their situation became clear when a former Thai navy diver died after delivering air tanks to the group on Friday.

Above ground, a huge military and civilian rescue operation is racing against the clock to bring the boys to safety. Heavy monsoon rains are expected on Sunday, threatening further flooding.

Speaking on Friday, the governor of the Chiang Rai region, where the cave is located, said the boys had enough strength to walk but could not swim to safety.

Narongsak Osotthanakorn said divers were continuing to teach them diving and breathing techniques.

Meanwhile, rescuers outside the cave have dug more than 100 holes in an attempt to reach the cave by a direct route. There were 18 promising ones, the deepest at 400m, but Mr Narongsak said he was not sure if it would reach the boys, who are believed to be about 600m below the surface.

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