Thousands celebrate 1st anniversary of Tham Luang rescue in Chiang Rai
Thousands of local people and tourists, as well as some of the key players in the search and rescue of 13 Wild Boar footballers and their coach trapped in the flooded Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district, celebrated the first anniversary of the epic mission of mercy on Sunday.
Highlights of the event were a 10km mini marathon, a 6km fun run, a 20km and a 54km cycling contest.
Among the VIPs attending the event were Phayao provincial governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn, the commander of the rescue operation when he was then the governor of Chiang Rai province, Third Army region commander Lt-Gen Chalongchai Chaiyakha, Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookingkaew, commander of the Navy SEALs, Dr. Park Loharnchon, a member of the SEAL team, Mrs. Waleeporn Kunan, widow of Captain Samarn Kunan, the former SEAL member who died during the dangerous rescue operation and cave diver Verne Unsworth.
Before the start of the festivities, a religious ceremony was held in front of the Tham Luang cave complex and at the monument of Samarn Kunan to pay respects to the guardian angel and the spirit of the dead SEAL member.
Recalling the world famous rescue mission, Lt-Gen Chalongchai said it demonstrated the true spirit of human beings who spontaneously came together with one single determination – to help the 13 trapped boys and their coach and to bring them to safety.
The 13 footballers and their coach became trapped in the cave after it flooded. They went inside following a training session on June 23rd last year. A massive rescue operation, involving cave divers, cave climbers, water drainage experts and many other rescue experts from several countries, as well as thousands of Thai volunteers, was mounted. All 13 were safely extracted after being trapped inside the flooded cave for 18 days.