Clare caver tells of ‘amazing miracle’
The Ennis-based caver who took part in the rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach said it was an “amazing miracle” that the boys were rescued and are now back with their families.
Belgian national Jim Warny received a hero’s welcome at Shannon Airport, where a crowd of around 100 people applauded and cheered as he came through the doors at arrivals.
Flanked by his proud fiancée, Asia Mania, and his father Rene, Mr Warny told reporters: “We really didn’t expect that there would be such a good outcome. It is a truly amazing miracle that through all of those people [involved in the rescue] that those boys got to go home to their families.”
Mr Warny added that it was “bittersweet” because a Thai navy diver, Petty Officer First Class Saman Gunan “didn’t make it”.
Mr Warny said that “the true heroes of the operation are those boys who endured way more than us”.
Ms Mania said the last few days have been “very stressful” as she waited for updates around the rescue.
“It has been a nervous time,” he said. “I truly believe that Jim knows what he is doing. I trust him in everything that he does — especially when he goes caving.”
Mr Warny was at the ‘front end’ of the rescue with a group of English cave divers. He confirmed that he personally carried out some of the boys trapped in the cave. He said that conditions were difficult “because of the added responsibility of having a human life attached to you”.
He received the request for help last Friday and said that, after discussing it with his fiancée and family, he flew out last Saturday.
He said conditions inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave “were certainly harsh”.
“Visibility in the water was quite bad,” he said. “A lot of parts of the cave weren’t flooded, you were diving, walking, swimming, waving. It was a very dynamic environment to move through — that is why it required a lot of teams in the earlier sections of the cave and our own team to hand over the boys.
“Luckily enough, our particular team is well used to those conditions through our hobby, that is what we do. They are able to manage the risk and the stress and able to perform at the front end of the rescue.”
Michael Clifford: 15