Hugs for heroes: Touching moment parents of football team rescued from Thai cave embrace the brave British divers who saved their sons’ lives
Reaching out their hands in friendship and bowing their heads in gratitude, this is the moment the relieved parents of the missing cave boys came face-to-face with the British divers who saved them for the first time.
Beaming with joy but holding back tears of relief the parents flock towards Rick Stanton, John Volathen and other members of the British potholer team who led the ‘mission impossible’ at Tham Luang.
The nervous parents give the assembled divers the traditional hands-together Wai greeting before hugging and embracing the British heroes.
The modest divers have played down their heroic efforts, claiming anyone able with the skills to save the youngsters would have acted the same.
John Volanthen said: ‘We are not heroes, quite the opposite.
‘It’s not like that – if you could do the same for someone’s else’s child, you would.’
He added: ‘The result is the important thing. The kids came out, the coach is good, the [Thai navy] Seals are good – job done.
‘So we’re pleased with that.’
Retired Coventry firefighter Rick Stanton, 56, said: ‘It seems to have lifted the whole country. It all went according to plan. The boys did well.’
Another of the British divers involved in the rescue, Jason Mallinson, 50, from Huddersfield, insisted: ‘We’re not heroes.’
It comes after the man in charge of the mission has revealed the network will become a tourist attraction.
Narongsak Osottanakorn, who orchestrated the successful rescue of the ‘Wild Boars’ and their coach from the complex Tham Luang cave system in Chiang Rai this week, said on Wednesday the caves offered an opportunity to bring in tourists to the region.
The daring operation was carried out with the help of international rescue workers and ultimately resulted in the death of only one man – a Thai rescue diver on Friday last week.
In the aftermath of the famous rescue, Osottanakorn told reporters the site would ultimately be converted into a museum showcasing the clothes and equipment used during the mission.
‘Tourists will come visit,’ Osottanakorn said, ‘This area will become a living museum, to show how the operation unfolded.
‘An interactive data base will be set up. It will become another major attraction for Thailand.’
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) also said it planned to promote the Tham Luang cave as a tourist attraction after it featured so prominently in the news.