The entire country nigh stopped late Monday night when news broke that the children had been found safe after days of continual updates on the support from every corner of the Kingdom to help with the search-and-rescue effort.
Hearts warmed as people watched with deep emotion the video showing the moment when the rescue divers finally discovered the team sitting on a rock shelf above the waters inside the cave.
Not lost in the moment was the candid conversation between the rescue team and the children as they answered that they were all safe and in relatively good health.
The children’s light-heartedness on being found by the rescue team was a delight to hear, including the great question from Thais in English, “Where you come from?” Even more marvellous was the request from one of the children, “Tai roop gorn”, simply “Take a photo”.
Yet, even before this issue of The Phuket News hit the streets questions were being asked about the poor co-ordination among those joining the rescue effort. Likewise, serious doubts were voiced about the quality of information being relayed to the public during the continued search.
Those doubts lingered throughout Tuesday as unclear information about what strategy should be employed to get the children to safety became a matter of public debate.
All media coverage and the incredible level of interaction by people from all walks of life has highlighted just one point: that each person in the country had an emotional stake in the survival of the team and their coach. Their safe discovery felt like a collective victory that everyone could share.
The collective state of the nation focused on one single issue: safety and survival. And while the fate of just 13 quite rightly deserved the huge efforts to save their lives, amazingly so little is done and understood by the nation in preventing deaths on Thailand’s roads - and as this week presented, in Phuket, the deplorable state of marine safety when it comes to tour bouts.
One bus crash alone in March this year killed 18 people, while the seven days during the New Year week of holidays at the start of the year killed 423 people - and at the time of posting this report, the boat disaster in Phuket killed more than 33 tourists in one fell swoop.
With a little more concerted effort, maybe - just maybe - we can start to save a few more of those lives that are about to be lost.