Thai Cave Rescue Site to Become Museum, Hollywood Comes Knocking

Thai Cave Rescue Site to Become Museum, Hollywood Comes Knocking

Thursday, 12 July, 2018 - 08:15
Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn (C) and mission team celebrate the success of the Thai football team cave rescue. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The cave site where a young Thai football team was rescued in an ordeal that captivated the world will become a museum to pay tribute to the dangerous operation.

Stunning footage of that rescue was released Wednesday showing the youngsters -- aged 11 to 16 -- being stretchered to safety. Divers freed the last four of the 12 boys and their adult coach on Tuesday.

They were also seen sitting cheerfully in their hospital beds, where they are being kept in isolation until doctors are sure they did not pick up any nasty diseases during more than two weeks in the dark.

Workers were Thursday packing up the industrial water pumps, heavy-grade machinery and construction equipment at the mouth of the Tham Luang cave, which had been a high-tech command center during the 18-day ordeal.

Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters the site would ultimately be converted into a museum showcasing the clothes and equipment used during the dramatic rescue.

"I believe it will become another highlight in Thailand," he said. "Tourists will come visit."

About 50 people were working at the site, National Park ranger Pinitpong Wongma told AFP, adding that he expected work would continue until at least Sunday.

Hollywood has also come knocking to highlight the heroics of divers, cavers and medics who risked their lives to free the "Wild Boars".

The saga is reminiscent of the 2010 rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days, a tale that was turned into the 2015 movie “The 33” starring Antonio Banderas.

Two production companies are now looking to put together movies about the rescue.

Thailand’s Navy, whose SEAL unit led the rescue, and the Thai government have selected Ivanhoe Pictures to develop a film that would be directed by John M. Chu, the president of Ivanhoe Pictures, John Penotti, said in a statement.

Ivanhoe Pictures, which has offices in the United States and in Asia, focuses on Asia and North America. It is the co-producer of the upcoming film “Crazy Rich Asians,” based on the novel by Kevin Kwan and directed by Chu.

The other company looking to develop a movie on the event is US-based Pure Flix, which specializes in family films.

Pure Flix co-founder Michael Scott, who lives in Thailand part of the year, said producers from his company were on the ground interviewing rescue workers for a potential film. He said his wife grew up with Samarn Poonan, the former Thai navy SEAL who died during the mission.

“It’s Thai, Westerners, Europeans, Aussies - people from all over the world who helped bring these kids to safety,” Scott told Reuters. “I think there is a worldwide appeal which I think will inspire millions across the globe.”

Like the Chilean rescue, the Thai drama showcases real-life courage in the face of harrowing circumstances, said Mike Medavoy, the Oscar-nominated producer of “The 33.”

“It’s about the triumphs of individuals and groups of human beings over tragedy,” Medavoy said. “It’s a terrific story.”

The Thai rescue may also draw interest from TV networks, which could provide a quicker path to the screen.

On Tuesday, US television network ABC aired a special edition of “20/20” focused on the mission, and the Discovery Channel announced it would air a one-hour documentary on Friday.

The saga started on June 23 when the players walked into the Tham Luang cave complex after football practice and were trapped when monsoon flooding blocked their exit.

Nine days later British divers found the disheveled and hungry group perched on a ledge four kilometers (2.5 miles) inside the cave.

Over the following week, experts from around the world descended on northern Thailand and rescuers pumped out more than 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools-worth of water.

A huge media pack of more than 1,000 journalists gathered at the mouth of the cave feeding audiences all over the globe with every twist and turn of the dramatic rescue until its joyful conclusion on Tuesday.

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