CHIANG RAI – Tham Luang Cave complex in Mae Sai where 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach were trapped for more than two weeks before they were safely brought out will be turned into a museum to showcase the rescue, the head of the operation said on Wednesday.
“This area will become a living museum, to show how the operation unfolded,” the head of rescue mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn, told a news conference.
“An interactive data base will be set up” he said. “It will become another major attraction for Thailand.”
Thai officials say the fate of the boys and the multinational rescue has put the cave firmly on the map and plans are in place to develop it into a tourist destination.
But Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday extra precautions would have be implemented both inside and outside the cave to safeguard tourists.
A guide book describes the relatively unexplored Tham Luang cave as having an “impressive entrance chamber” leading to a marked path and then a series of chambers and boulders.
Villagers say it is known to be prone to flooding and many have urged authorities to post clearer warnings.
Chongklai Worapongsathorn, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the cave would be closed from Thursday but did not say for how long.
He said plans were in place to “revive” an adjacent national park where hundreds of rescue workers and military personnel set up camp during the search and rescue.
Superstitious Thais have been gripped by a legend about the cave – the full name of which is Tham Luang Nang Non or “cave of the reclining lady”.
Legend has it that a beautiful princess ran away to the cave with her commoner lover. Her father sent soldiers to kill the lover, prompting the princess to commit suicide.
Surrounding mountains took on the shape of her body.
Meanwhile, a US film crew has already arrived in Chiang Rai, and two American producers are plotting a movie project about the 12 young Mu Pa Academy footballers and their assistant coach who were trapped in the cave for more than two weeks, according to an Australian news website.
Pure Flix films managing partner Michael Scott said: “I see this as a major Hollywood film with A-list stars”.
Scott and co-producer Adam Smith have already conducted preliminary interviews.
Scott and Smith also plan to bring in a screenwriter and interview key players from the team of foreign rescuers and Thai Navy SEALS, the trapped footballers and their families and seek exclusive rights to their stories.
By Panu Wongcha-um – REUTERS
Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panarat Thepgumpnat