Thai Farmers Sacrifice Crops, Income, To Save Cave Boys
"The villagers weren't concerned about the crops that would be destroyed because they are concerned about the children in the cave more"
Farmers are often thought of as incredibly resilient and humble in the toughest of times, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen in Thailand this week.
Just a few kilometres from Tham Luang cave, rice fields have been swamped by the water frantically pumped by rescue crews to save 13 young lives.
The Wild Boars soccer team were stuck underground in the cave for two weeks, with an immense international rescue effort pumping millions of litres of water out of the flooded cave. The pumped water spilled out into neighbouring fields, inundating farms.
But for one 72-year-old farmer, losing his crop is a small sacrifice, to help make a miracle.
"When I'm growing rice, if it's dead, it will grow up again. But with 13 children, if something happens to them... I can't imagine. It doesn't compare to the lives of 13 children,” Boonrat Kasemrad told Ten Eyewitness News.
He will lose around 25,000 (around AUD$1000) baht in earnings, after the water from the operation wiped out his crops.
During the rescue operation, 1.6 million litres of water was being pumped out of the cave every hour, and the low-lying areas of Chiang Rai is where a lot of the deluge ended up.
Hundreds of hectares of land in the province are drowned out and destroyed.
While flooding is seasonal in Thailand, the pumped water has been sudden and on a massive scale. It will affect many farmers' livelihoods.
But still they smile, in support of the courageous rescue efforts.
"I'm really happy to hear the boys are out of there because it's been an operation between all people,” Mr Kasemrad said.
The leader of the village, Pattanad Tanatanyanan, says it's a small contribution.
"While it's not ideal, the villagers weren't concerned about the crops that would be destroyed because they are concerned about the children in the cave more,” she said.
But despite the setback, farmers are confident they'll recover. Despite their fields being ruined, they’re just happy they could help free the trapped boys and their coach.