Directed by Ron Howard (‘Parenthood’ and ‘Pavarotti’), Amazon Prime’s ‘Thirteen Lives’ is a survival drama we can only describe as a near-perfect portrayal of the 2018 Tham Luang cave incident. That’s because it explores not just the complex rescue of the 12 kids as well as an adult trapped inside owing to heavy rainwater flooding but also the emotions behind the entire intense operation. Therefore, since one of the key figures here is none other than Thailand native Thanet Natisri, let’s find out more about him, his work, his experiences, and his current whereabouts, shall we?
Who is Thanet Natisri?
Thanet Natisri was honestly, thankfully, at the right place at the right time when the terrifying news of the stuck junior association soccer team came in from Chiang Rai back on June 23, 2018. The Illinois-based water engineer and self-taught groundwater expert was already in Bangkok for a government project at the time, so he managed to make it to the cave five days later — June 28. However, the then long-term Aquifer Recovery supervisor/advisor was not a complete volunteer; the Thai military had explicitly requested his quick assistance due to his area of specialization.
Thanet had initially believed rescuing the 12 teenagers as well as their assistant coach would be rather easy, that is until he arrived near the scene and took in the massive water levels. He thus immediately began working on plans to drain the cave, all the while surveying the mountain range on top to find the sinkholes before they could actually direct the water elsewhere. “We were racing against time,” the professional once candidly revealed. “We had less than six days before the heavy rains came in. If we didn’t get them out, the cave would be flooded.”
According to reports, Thanet had around 450 rescue workers under his direct command, including 270 Army officials, 150 recovery organizations volunteers, and 20-40 local villagers. That’s how he was able to cover a majority of the mountain and manage the pumping station for the groundwater levels — the only sad part is that he had to temporarily flood the nearby farms (with permission) because the water had to go somewhere. Thanet worked nearly 20 hours a day to ensure the boys’ safety, yet he remains humble by maintaining he was “just the water guy.”
Where is Thanet Natisri Now?
Although Thanet has been working in construction-related fields since he was just 12 and is seemingly still dedicated to groundwater engineering, it’s imperative to note he’s also an entrepreneur. He and his loving wife Yada actually own-operate the renowned Illinois Thai-D restaurant, a classic Thai eatery that even offers vegan-friendly as well as gluten-free options.
The couple is happily based in Marion, Illinois, at the moment, but from what we can tell, they do love to travel, whether to Thailand, the UK, or even New York and California. We should mention Thanet even served as an executive producer for the National Geographic 2021 documentary on this same Tham Luang cave matter, simply yet aptly entitled ‘The Rescue.’
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