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'I'm very happy the boys are safe': Irish based diver who helped Thai cave rescue speaks about ordeal

Jim Warny’s nine-year old son said he never had any doubt that his Dad would come home safe.

Rescuers hold a rescued boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.
Rescuers hold a rescued boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.
Image: Sakchai Lalit via PA

AN EXPERIENCED DIVER who travelled from Clare to Thailand to help rescue 12 boys and their football coach has spoken out about the successful mission to free the children.

Jim Warny, who is originally from Belgium but lives in Clare, travelled to south-east Asia to help with the rescue effort.

Warny travelled to Thailand last Saturday following a request from the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC).

Jim was one of several cave divers requested by the BCRC to assist the ongoing rescue operation there. Warny said he was glad to see that the mission was a total success.

In a Facebook post, Warny said: “It was an honour to been given the opportunity to join the team to do this.”

Warny – who works at Shannon based Lufthansa Technik – said: “This rescue was an amazing collaborative journey involved many organisations and people from all over the world.”

He said: “As all of you I’m very happy the boys are safe.”

Warny’s nine-year old son never had any doubt that his Dad would be okay during the high risk rescue. That is according to Warny’s former wife, Kasia Kowalska and mother of their son, Ciaran.

The Ennis based Belgian caving expert is due to fly into Shannon airport this morning following his heroics in participating in the team that rescued the boys and their coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand.

Thailand cave rescue Boys rescued from the Thai cave wear masks and rest at a hospital in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The eyes of the world were on the successful rescue mission and Kowalska said yesterday: “It is wonderful what Jim did and it is wonderful that all of the boys’ lives were saved.”

Kowalska said: “Ciaran was quite confident that his Dad would be okay. He trusts his Dad and he was saying ‘everything is going to be fine’. He is very proud of what his Dad has done.”

She said: “Jim is very, very experienced and very good at what he does. He is very confident in his own ability. He was saying ‘I know what I am doing’ and he explained everything.

“There is always the fear that something might go wrong. Jim was risking his life and you are always worried so we are relieved that everything worked out fine. As long as he is fine.”

She said: “Jim is very, very brave and I’m sure he is absolutely exhausted. We are very proud of what he has done in helping to save the boys and the coach. Without the team’s work, getting the boys out would have been really impossible.”

Kowalska said that Jim texted on a regular basis to let Ciaran know that he was okay.

She said that Jim “is very humble and will be surprised with all of the attention”.

In his Facebook post, Warny also remembered the ultimate sacrifice made by Petty Officer First Class Saman Gunan who lost his life in the rescue mission. He said that his condolences go out to the family of Saman Gunan.

Chairman of Irish Cave Rescue Organisation (ICRO), Duncan Foster yesterday congratulated Jim and the international cave-diving community on their integral role in the operation.

He said: “I am full of admiration for the heroic achievements of all involved in the rescue of the 12 boys and their coach. In particular, we are very proud of the contribution of one of our own team members, Jim Warny, who has been a member of ICRO since 2011.”

He added: “Since that time, Jim has provided us with the benefit of his considerable cave-diving experience in his role as ICRO’s diving officer. Jim’s methodical approach and his discipline in managing the risks associated with cave diving, have gained him the respect of his peers.”

He explained: “This is why he was called upon by his British cave-diving colleagues to assist in what has been an extremely challenging rescue.”

ICRO is affiliated to the BCRC, which is the coordinating body for volunteer underground rescue in the UK and Ireland. It has described the operation as ‘one of the most incredible cave rescues ever’ with a ‘tense but joyful’ outcome.

UPI 20180711 A number of countries came together to help with the rescue effort. Source: UPI/PA Images

The BCRC stated: “It has been both gratifying and humbling how the cave-rescue world, cave divers and the wider caving world have come together during the past fortnight to help the Thai people and others from many nationalities pull off what many believed to be an impossible task.”

The 12 boys and their coach lost an average of 2kg during their 17-day ordeal but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, a senior Thai health official has said.

Following their successful exit from the cave they were taken by helicopter to a hospital about 70km away and will remain in quarantine for the time being.

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About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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