Meditating monk rescued from flooded cave in Thailand

Bangkok: Rescue divers have freed a meditating Buddhist monk from a flooded Thai cave in scenes that echoed the high-profile 2018 rescue of a trapped boys’ football team.

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Manas Kemgoh, 46, was on a pilgrimage when he entered the Phra Sai Ngam cave in Phitsanulok province, in the country’s north, on Saturday to meditate.

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The monk, wearing only simple brown robes, was trapped inside the cave by severe flooding, until rescuers were able to reach him.

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“The rescue foundation was informed on (Tuesday)… by an abbot that a monk was missing and he suspected he had gone into a cave to meditate,” rescue worker Weerapong Jaighum told AFP on Thursday.

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A team of divers were dispatched on Tuesday, but quickly ran into trouble.

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“A lot of stalactites inside the cave made it difficult for divers’ rescue operation,” he said, adding that heavy rainfall eventually forced them to abandon the search.

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On Wednesday, they mounted a second rescue operation, involving 100 people.

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A small team reached the monk and wrapped him in a foil survival blanket to keep him warm while they checked his state of health.

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“The water level receded on the second day so we didn’t have to use water pumps to pump out trapped water inside the cave,” Weerapong said.

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He said the monk had swimming skills, had previously been diving and was able to cope well with the rescue.

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The monk is now in hospital with a slight fever and health workers will continue to monitor his condition.

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The case drew comparisons with the extraordinary saga of the “Wild Boars” football team that captivated the world in 2018.

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After an 18-day ordeal, the 12 young boys and their coach emerged safely from Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand after a rescue mission involving foreign expert divers and the Thai navy.

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The team became global celebrities and have since toured the world.

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The rescue has also attracted filmmakers eager to capture the dramatic operation onscreen – with Netflix nabbing the rights to tell the story.

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Another film, “The Cave”, made it to silver screens in Thailand in 2019, focusing on the rescue efforts and even starring one of the foreign divers playing himself.

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