Thai cave reopens for visitors after wild boar rescue

BANGKOK: Thailand reopened the cave where 12 young players and their coach were trapped last year in a saga that captivated the world.

It has been closed to visitors since the Wild Boars football team was rescued alive after almost three weeks inside the flooded corridors.

But the world-famous cave in the north reopened on Friday, attracting about 2,000 tourists in a single day, a local conservation official told AFP.

We have allowed visitors to see the mouth of the cave, said Kamolchai Kotcha, director of the local conservation office abroad.

The guests cannot go past the entrance for now, where they can look towards the opening of the cave, but authorities said they were considering allowing people to enter more deeply after inspecting the safety of the route.

Some of the remaining rescue teams, including telephone wires, hoses and zip lines, could be displayed inside the cave for visitors to see in the future, Kotcha said.

Photos from Friday's opening showed tourists at the entrance to the site, where the children's bicycles and backpacks were found last year, alerting local police that they were probably inside.

The Wild Boars entered Tham Luang in June 2018 for a routine walk after a soccer practice, but were trapped after heavy rains blocked the only route.

Hundreds of people descended to the remote site to help save the children, who were found, emaciated but alive, on a muddy hanger inside the cave after nine unbearable days of searching.

The children were sedated and equipped with full face respirators before being taken to a safe place through a dangerous underwater maze.

Several book deals on the drama have been signed, and the first film about the rescue premiered this month in South Korea.