The daring and danger-ridden rescue of the Thai football team aged between 11 and 16 and their coach, who were trapped in a cave system in northern Thailand for 18 days has an Indian connection.
Experts from a Pune-headquartered firm gave technical support in the operations. After the Indian Embassy recommended Kirlosker Brothers’ Limited’s (KBL) expertise in “dewatering” to the Thai authorities, the company sent teams from its offices in India, Thailand and the United Kingdom to the site.
The final five members of the young football team were rescued from the flooded Thai cave on Tuesday. A total of 12 children and their coach, ventured into the Tham Luang cave in mountainous northern Thailand on June 23 after football practise and got trapped when heavy rains caused flooding.
KBL’s experts were on site at the cave in Tham Luang since July 5 offering “technical know-how and advice on dewatering and pumps involved in the rescue operation,” said a KBL release.
The two engineers were the only Indians who helped out with the rescue operation and were part of the seven-member team from pump manufacturing company Kirloskar Brothers Limited, which was roped in by Thailand for the mission, the Mumbai Mirror reported. One member each came from the Netherlands and the UK, and the rest from the company’s Thailand office.
Kirloskar, which was the only team tasked with de-watering operations, has partnered with the Royal Government of Thailand on some projects in the past. The team had to pump out water from the 4-km-long treacherous cave during adverse weather conditions.
“Our work was to remove water from the cave, which has sharp 90° turns. The incessant rainfall posed a huge problem as the water level just couldn’t recede. The generator-based power supply was erratic. So, we had to use smaller pumps,” said Kulkarni, who is the production designer head at Kirloskar, according to the Mumbai mirror.
He said rescuers faced frustrating challenges. “The cave is in a 20-sq km hill, which was dark and damp. Its topography is such that even scuba divers could not help at times,” said Kulkarni, who has been working at Kirloskar Wadi in Sangli for the last 25 years.
The only option in such a scenario was to deploy pumps.
The other limitations was big pumps could not be installed. The Indian company also offered to provide four specialised high capacity Autoprime dewatering pumps, which were kept ready at Kirloskarvadi plant in Maharashtra to be airlifted to Thailand.
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