Clare caver tells of ‘amaz­ing mir­a­cle’

Irish Examiner - - News - Gor­don Dee­gan

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

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