BANGKOK – The cave where 12 members of a youth soccer team and their coach became trapped for over two weeks, a story which grabbed international headlines, will be turned into a museum, officials told EFE on Thursday.
The 12 boys, between 11 and 16 years old, and their coach, 25, had gone into Tham Luang cave after finishing soccer training on June 23, but a heavy rainstorm flooded the cave and blocked their way out, trapping them inside.
The last of the boys and the trainer were rescued on Tuesday evening, 17 days after they had gone missing.
Photos, clothes and equipment of the rescue teams will be kept in the museum, and Thailand plans to turn the area into a national park in the hopes of attracting visitors and promoting the region.
“It is difficult to provide more details about the plan now, we want to showcase what happened and for that we need financial help,” Chiang Rai province governor, Narongsak Osottanakorn, who coordinated the rescue operation, told EFE.
The official said the project hoped to increase tourism to the province.
Located near the “golden triangle” in the far north of Thailand – bordering with Laos and Myanmar and known for growing opium and cannabis – Chiang Rai’s economy has traditionally been driven by the trade of illegal narcotics.
The province is home to illegal workers from bordering countries and its development is largely dependent on trade of all kinds of goods which are beyond the control of customs.
Many westerners visit the mountainous region for its scenic beauty and explore the caves, including Tham Luang cave as a main attraction.
Thai authorities are hoping to turn the boys’ harrowing story, which could have ended in tragedy, into a windfall for the region.