Philippine Daily Inquirer


- —AP

It’s a simple melody sung to the plucking of acoustic guitars by schoolchil­dren sitting around candles: “I beg the skies to show mercy and empathy/ My brothers are in Tham Luang Khun Nang Non/ Let them pass this danger, I beg.”

Students of Lek Nai Tung Kwang school wrote and performed the song for 12 boys aged 11-16 and their soccer coach, who disappeare­d while exploring a cave in northern Thailand a week ago.

Outpouring of hope

The music video, broadcast on national television, was part of an outpouring of hope, empathy and concern across Thailand for the boys, their families and the army of rescuers.

“We want to help them, but if we went up there we’d probably just get in the way. So we’re doing what we can by sending encouragem­ent,” said Keeta Wariburee, a teacher at the school that produced the video.

Rescuers including elite Thai Navy divers, a US military team, British cave experts, and Australian and Chinese lifesaving responders have been frustrated by incessant rain that has flooded the cave and made locating the boys more difficult.

A break in the rain over the weekend eased flooding in the system of caverns, but pumping out water hasn’t solved the problem and the attention focused on finding shafts on the mountainsi­de that might serve as a back door to the blockedoff areas where the missing may be sheltering.

In a desperate move, officials dropped into the shafts care packages stuffed with food, beverages, a phone, a flashlight, candles, a lighter and a map of the cave.

Sense of common cause

In a country that has been deeply divided by political strife and remains under military rule following a coup four years ago, the sight of mudcaked soldiers and volunteers working in pouring rain has filled Thais with both pride and a sense of common cause.

Lamduan Mayula traveled to the cave from Payao province, where she owns a gift shop and also volunteers as a rescue worker.

Mayula and her friends have set up a kitchen and hand out food to hungry workers.

“I just feel like I have to do something. I can’t be sitting at home and watching the news,” she said. “And I will stay here until we and the boys and their coach can all go home together.”

In signs of solidarity with the missing, students around Thailand have been organizing mass prayers and other events.

They have showed solidarity by sitting in rows to form the number 13, the number of the missing, while some folded origami paper cranes marked with messages of support.

Muangthong United, one of the largest and most popular teams in Thailand’s top soccer league, made a similar gesture, releasing a video in which players and staff stand in the middle of their stadium, holding hands in a circle around soccer balls forming the number 13.

In a post on his Facebook page in April, Eakapol Chantawong, the missing coach of the boys’ Wild Boars soccer team, checked in at the stadium and wrote, “One day I have to bring my young players here.”

 ?? —AP ?? UNITED IN HOPE Thai schoolchil­dren sing a song they wrote for the 12 boys and soccer coach who went missing in a cave in northern Thailand.
—AP UNITED IN HOPE Thai schoolchil­dren sing a song they wrote for the 12 boys and soccer coach who went missing in a cave in northern Thailand.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines