Search Continues for Missing Asian Tourist in Mae Sai Caves
CHIANG RAI – Khun Nam Nang Non forest park rangers and Village defence officials are still searching for an asian tourist who was reported missing in a deep cave in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district on Aug 12, 2016.
Forest park director Sawasdi Taweerat told reporters Friday, he believed the man was still alive, because the missing man had plenty of food supplies with him.
The latest search was carried out by village defence team members and residents of Moo 9 village in Pong Pha subdistrict, the closest community to the caves.
It came after park officials ordered the search suspended on Saturday to wait for police to look for the missing tourist in other places in Mae Sai.
Village defence chief Boonrang Chomphupor, who led the search, told reporters that ground searchers and divers had so far failed to locate the missing tourist but he believes the man is dead because they could smell an odour like that of a decomposing body at the cave’s mouth.
He said part of the cave in that area was flooded with about two metres of water after recent heavy rainfall, which has impeded the search.
Because of the water, his team will survey other routes and discuss new plans before resuming the search, despite park officials suspending their search.
Pavinee Mayer, a vendor near the cave who may have been the last person to see the missing tourist, said the man stopped by at her stall on the afternoon of Aug. 12 and told her, in Thai, that he was trekking into one of the caves in the forest to meditate for several days.
She said the foreign tourist was aged between 50-60 and was either Chinese or Japanese.
He parked his bicycle under a tree near a food stall and asked vendors to look after it as he was going into the caves for a few days.
Pavinee said when she returned to her stall on Wednesday and the bicycle was still there, she alerted police.
Officials said they still have one large cave to search in a few days once flood water drains from its entrance chamber.
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