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Thai cave rescue: Parents write heart-wrenching letters to boys and their coach

By Anne Barker, Sunday July 8, 2018 - 07:51 EST

"We are not angry at you. Please take good care of yourselves and cover yourself with blankets. It's cold and we're worried about you."

They're the heart-wrenching words of desperate parents waiting at the cave site in northern Thailand, where their 12 sons and the boys' soccer coach remain trapped by floodwaters deep underground.

The parents have had short letters delivered to the boys — 4 kilometres into the cave system — by expert divers who are part of a massive multinational effort to rescue the boys, hopefully within the next few days.

Many parents made it clear they are not angry at their sons for going into the cave. Nor do they blame the boys' coach, Ekapol Chatarawong, 25, for putting their children in danger.



"Please don't blame yourself for this," they wrote to him.

"We want you to rest assured that no parent is upset or angry at you. Everybody supports you.

"Thank you very much for taking care of our children. You went into the cave with our children and you must get out with them. Take our children and yourself out with safety. We are waiting in front of the cave."

The 25-year-old soccer coach apologised to parents in the first letter he and the team sent out through divers.



It is now more than two weeks since the boys, aged 11 to 16, and the young coach entered the Tham Luang cave complex in Chiang Rai province for a Saturday evening adventure, after the day's soccer practice.

But as they walked in, monsoonal rains began to fall quickly filling the caves and blocking the boys' exit.

As the water level rose inside, the boys went deeper into the cave system to seek shelter.

Boys send love and food requests to families



Thai Navy Seals, who are helping to lead the rescue operation, yesterday delivered letters the boys and coach had written to their families, telling them they are doing fine and that the Navy Seals are taking good care of them.



They told their families they miss them and wanted to go home.

Many — including the coach — also said they craved their favourite foods, such as fried chicken and crispy pork.

Now, parents have written back, telling the boys they are waiting for them outside the cave, and how much they miss them.

"Dear Knight (Peerapat Som-Piengjai), Dad and mom is waiting to arrange for your birthday party. Please get out soon, and stay healthy," one parent writes.

"Father and mother want to see your face. Father and mother pray for you and your friends, in order to see you soon," writes the parent of another boy Adul Sam-On.



The mother of the youngest boy in the group, Titan, 11, (Cha-nin Viboon-Rungrueng), urges him to be strong.

"Titan, I've been waiting for you in front of the cave. I love you and miss you so much. Be patient. I cheer you up! Be strong," the letter said.

"I wait for you in front of the cave. You must make it! I believe in you. You can make it. I'm giving you moral support all the time. Love you so much. Your dad also misses you and loves so much."

'No one blames you'



Coach Ekapol's aunt also wrote to encourage him.

"No one blames you," she says. "Many people are giving you moral support. Keep fighting. I love you. Bring all the brothers out."

Mr Ekapol and two of the younger boys were reported to be weaker than the rest of the group, after going ten days without food, before divers found them last Monday.

The grandfather of one boy writes, 'Dear Nong Mick (Panumart Saeng-Dee), Grandfather Lek hopes that Coach Aek can become healthy soon, and would like to ask all the children to stay strong."

"Grandfather Lek hopes that Mick gets really healthy and must not be afraid of anyone condemning him. Grandfather Lek is never angry at you."



Thai authorities on Friday night said the rescue would be delayed another day because the boys and coach were not yet ready to use scuba diving gear to help them swim out of the cave.

Mostly dry weather allowed diving experts to spend more time teaching them how to use a scuba mask for breathing underwater, and how to manoeuvre through the flooded passageways with an air tank.

But with rainfall still expected in coming days, .

Read the letters in full:





Dear Coach Ek (Mr. Ekapol Chatarawong),
The parents of every children have asked you to take care of our children. Please, don't blame yourself for this. We want you to rest assure that every parent is not upset or angry at you, and everybody understands and support you. Thank you very much for taking care of our children. You went into the cave with our children, and you must get out with them. Take our children (and yourself) out with safety. We are waiting in front of the cave.
Ah-Een.


Dear Every children (Tle -- Nattawhud Na-Kham-Sai),
Now every parent is waiting and supporting you. We are not angry at you. Please, take good care of yourself and cover yourself up with blankets. It's cold, and I'm worried about you. You will be out in a short time. Faddy Sak and mother Ae are waiting for you.
Patchanee Takhamsong (Mother Ae)


Dear Note (Prajak Sutham),
[The letter is written in the form of a poem]
Father and mother are waiting
Take good care of yourself
Father Neugn and Mother Dao miss you a lot
Please tell Coach Eak to not be over worried
Mother is not angry at him
Rattanadao Chantapoon

Dear Mark (Mongkol Boon-aium),
Now that mommy is waiting for you in front of the cave. I miss you, and please don't feel bad. (Mother Hom) loves you a lot, and please take good care of yourself

Dear Knight (Peerapat Som-Piengjai),
Dad and mom is waiting to arrange for your birthday party. Please get out soon, and stay healthy. Mommy knows that you can do it. And you must not be over worried about it. Daddy and Mommy, as well as grandfather, grandmother, and every relatives are supporting you, always. Daddy and mommy love you so much.
Father Boon, Mother O

Dear Nick (Pipat Po-thi),
Please take care of yourself. Daddy and Mommy are waiting for you.
Father Be, Mother Nang, and Nong Bonus

Dear Beau (Ekarat Wongsuk-chan),
Daddy and Mommy miss you. Love you always.

[From Titan's mom To Titan (Cha-nin Viboon-Rungrueng)]
Titan, I've been waiting for you in front of the cave. I love you and miss you so much. Be patient. I cheer you up! Be strong. I wait for you in front of the cave. You must make it! I believe in you. You can make it. I'm giving you moral support all the time. Love you so much. Your dad also misses you and loves so much. (Love you)

[From coach Ake's aunt or uncle To coach Ek (Mr. Ekapol Chatarawong)]
I'm waiting for you in front of the cave. Don't think too much. Take care of yourself. No one blames you. Grandma, brothers/sisters, relatives and I are waiting for you in front of the cave. I urge you to keep fighting. I'm cheering you up. Grandma, brothers/sisters and I miss you. No one blames you. Many people are giving you moral support. Keep fighting. I love you. Bring all the brothers (i.e. the 12 boys) out. Keep fighting.

[From Titan's mom To Titan (Cha-nin Viboon-Rungrueng)]
Be strong. I love you. I'm caring about you. I'm cheering you up! I'm waiting for you in front of the cave. Bring all the boys, Ake.


Dear Pong (Sompong Jaiwong),
Please take care of your health and stay strong. Father, mother, and everyone are waiting outside to welcome you back to us safely. I would like to thank you Coach Aek for taking care of our 12 children.
To Coach, please don't be worried. Every parent thank you for taking care of our children.
I have called to Father Chai and Mother Song who went home for some business, so I hope the medical team could take care of him. (unreadable). The sentence that Father Chai said over the phone to Pong, and his message for Pong, he hopes that you take good care of your health. Daddy and mommy are waiting to welcome you... from Father Chai and Mother Orn

Dear Nong Mick (Panumart Saeng-Dee), (Grandfather Lek couldn't write properly, so P'Nueang is written on his behalf)
Grandfather Lek wish that Coach Aek can become healthy soon, and would like to ask every children to stay strong, and Grandfather Lek is waiting at the cave's entrance.
Grandfather Lek hopes that Mick gets really healthy and Mick must not be afraid of anyone's condemning him. Grandfather Lek is never angry at you. Grandfather Lek loves Mick, always.
Grandfather Lek.

To Adul (Adul Sam-On)
Father and mother want to see your face. Father and mother pray for you and your friends, in order to see you soon. After you left the cave, (we) want you to say thank you to every officials, (we) want you to trust in god, no worries, father and mother are awaiting until you come out.
And for Coach Aek, thank you for taking care children and lead the children to safety in the times of staying in the dark.
And Jiji, wish you have strong moral, return to the chest of father and mother in the outside. (We) are waiting outside with love and care too.

Tee's (Pornchai Kham-Luang) and Dom's (Duangpetch Prom-Thep) parents have to go back home for their business. They asked the staff to write.
Tee and Dom, dads and moms wish you safety. The Mental Heath team told that dads and moms have strong health. We (dads and moms) wish you strong spirit and to come out. We are waiting for you at the cave's entrance.


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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