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Hero British diver's modesty as he returns home after Thai cave rescue

John Volanthen who helped rescue the boys trapped in the cave in Thailand
John Volanthen who helped rescue the boys trapped in the cave in Thailand

By PA and AP Reporters

One of the divers who helped to save 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand played down his heroics as he returned to Britain.

There have been calls for John Volanthen and Rick Stanton to be honoured after they were the first divers to reach the stranded group in an underground network in Chiang Rai province, ahead of their successful rescue.

After landing at Heathrow Airport on Thursday, Mr Volanthen spoke of the "relief" he felt at seeing the boys rescued after an 18-day ordeal in the Luang Nang Non Cave, and was modest about his extraordinary feat.

"We were very pleased and we were very relieved that they were all alive but I think at that point we realised the enormity of the situation and that's perhaps why it took a while to get them all out," he told Sky News.

He added: "We are not heroes. What we do is very calculating, very calm. It's quite the opposite."

Mr Volanthen also paid tribute to Thai navy diver Saman Kunan, who died while replenishing oxygen canisters, saying his death brought a "bittersweet" taste to an otherwise "excellent" operation.

The IT consultant, in his 40s, who is based in Bristol, and Mr Stanton, a fireman from Coventry who is in his 50s, reached the group nine days after they went missing deep within the labyrinth.

The final four boys and their 25-year-old coach were brought to safety on Tuesday, having entered the network for exploration on June 23 before it became flooded by monsoon rains.

Their rescue was particularly treacherous because the boys, aged 11 to 16, had to swim through tight spaces despite having no previous diving experience.

Meanwhile, the rescue looks set to get the Hollywood treatment. Producers behind Christian films such as God's Not Dead are already in the country with plans to develop a movie about the 18-day saga.

Though the drama of headline-grabbing rescues does not often carry over to the big screen, Pure Flix Entertainment co-founder Michael Scott said he believes the story is ripe for movie adaptation.

"We realised this would make an incredibly inspiring movie," Mr Scott said. "We know there's not a lot of positive news in the world today."

Many hurdles await as most films that enter development never get produced and the producers are just beginning to seek a screenwriter.

Other film production companies are likely to show interest, and they could leapfrog ahead with a larger production.

Discovery has already scheduled a one-hour documentary special to debut on Friday.

But Pure Flix hopes it can beat any fiction-film rush.

Belfast Telegraph


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