Thai boys were passed ‘sleeping’ through cave — rescue diver

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A screen grab shows boys rescued from the Thai cave wearing mask and resting in a hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand from a July 11, 2018 handout video. (REUTERS/Via handout)
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A handout photo from the Royal Thai Navy shows the last four Thai Navy SEALs giving a thumbs up after exiting safely from the Tham Luang cave following the rescue of the remaining four boys and their coach on Tuesday, July 10. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Thai boys were passed ‘sleeping’ through cave — rescue diver

CHIANG RAI, Thailand: The boys rescued from a Thai cave were passed “sleeping” on stretchers through the treacherous pathways, a former Thai Navy SEAL who was the last diver to leave the Tham Luang complex said Wednesday.
The details of the complex operation are among the first to emerge from a rescue effort to save 12 boys and their football coach that has been shrouded in secrecy since it began on Sunday and ended successfully three days later.

Footage was released on Wednesday of the boys in high-spirits and in good health in hospital beds by the Thai government.
“Some of them were asleep, some of them were wiggling their fingers... (as if) groggy, but they were breathing,” Commander Chaiyananta Peeranarong said, adding that doctors stationed along the dark corridors of the Tham Luang cave were constantly checking their condition and pulse.
“My job was to transfer them along,” he said, adding the “boys were wrapped up in stretchers already when they were being transferred.”
Thailand’s junta chief told reporters on Tuesday that the group had been given a “minor tranquilizer” to help calm their nerves.
But he denied they were knocked out for the miraculous rescue.
The lack of information about the meticulously planned rescue had baffled observers given that the team were extracted safely.
The members of the “Wild Boars” team, aged 11-16, had no experience in scuba diving, and the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who had helped install oxygen tanks in preparation for the rescue underscored the dangers of the mission.
Thailand said it had called on 13 “world class” divers to help with the unprecedented job, one of whom was Australian Richard “Harry” Harris, a diver and professional anesthetist.
Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters on Wednesday that the entire operation would not have been possible without the unique skills that Harris brought to the mission, though he did not elaborate.
The international bid to extract the team garnered attention from around the world after the team found themselves trapped on June 23 when they entered the cave after practice and were blocked by floodwaters.


Afghanistan’s vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum to return home from exile

Updated 22 July 2018
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Afghanistan’s vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum to return home from exile

  • Dostum’s return follows nearly three weeks of mass protests in northern Afghanistan
  • The protests were a major headache for the government amid increased attacks by the Taliban and Daesh

KABUL: Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who was exiled by President Ashraf Ghani’s government over allegations of sexual abuse, returned home on Sunday to rapturous reception from supporters and is set to resume his duties as normal.
Dostum’s return follows nearly three weeks of mass protests in northern Afghanistan by his ethnic Uzbek supporters, who blocked several border crossings and government institutions, and threatened to boycott the long-delayed October elections.
The protests were a major headache for the government amid increased attacks by the Taliban and Daesh in the north recently.
Dostum’s supporters accuse Ghani of having sidelined him. The protests were triggered by the arrest of Nizamuddin Qaisari, a senior commander and Dostum loyalist accused of severe human rights abuses and threatening to kill provincial officials.
In a video, government troops were seen beating Qaisari’s handcuffed guards during his arrest, stoking further anger.
Haroon Chakansuri, a spokesman for Ghani, said Dostum had gone to Turkey for nearly 14 months for unspecified medical treatment, and would return home on a chartered aircraft on Sunday and be given an official reception.
Accusations that Dostum had ordered his guards to sexually abuse and torture political rival Ahmad Eschi will be handled independently by the courts, Chakansuri said. Dostum supporters say the allegations about Eschi are a conspiracy.
Ghani picked Dostum, the self-proclaimed leader of ethnic Uzbeks, as his running mate in the 2014 elections.
Ghani last year blocked Dostum’s return from exile when he tried to fly home to form an opposition alliance including senior government members.
The ethnic Uzbek vote is essential for any candidate in the presidential elections slated for next year. Ghani has said he will stand for office again.