Rescue 'united the world'

Runchita Ovararint (left) and Mina Saengchan were still smiling at yesterday's clubs and societies day at the University of Otago, after learning of the rescue of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand. Photo: Linda Robertson
Runchita Ovararint (left) and Mina Saengchan were still smiling at yesterday's clubs and societies day at the University of Otago, after learning of the rescue of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand. Photo: Linda Robertson
A group of Thai students in Dunedin had a special reason to smile yesterday, as they celebrated the international rescue that saved 12 boys and their football coach from deep inside a flooded cave.

Runchita Ovararint (21) and Mina Saengchan (23) were among a group of Thai students running the Otago University Thai Students Association desk at the university's clubs and societies day yesterday.

The two society co-presidents were there to find new recruits to join their society, which promoted Thai culture - from Thai food to boxing - to 65 members across campus, the pair said.

The club was open to all comers, and members included both international and domestic students, Miss Saengchan.

But, asked yesterday if Thailand's cave rescue drama made the day a special one for Thai people, the pair erupted in smiles and laughter.

''Oh ... I'm so relieved and excited to know they are all safe and in hospital to recover,'' a beaming Miss Saengchan said.

''Everyone did a very good job on this mission. Everyone collaborated so well - not only the Thai Government, but the world.''

The pair had been following developments in their home country ever since the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped in flooding tunnels while exploring the cave complex on June 23.

Miss Saengchan said she had feared for the boys' safety following the death of one of the rescuers, a former Thai navy Seal, and after hearing the rescue mission compared to climbing Mt Everest.

Now, there was a sense of relief the rescue operation had gone to plan, and time to relax and smile again.

''People are saying we united the world, humanity, together.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment