Mario Sepulveda, one of the Chilean miners who was trapped underground for 69 days in 2010, had a moving message of encouragement on Wednesday for the boys’ football team trapped in a cave in Thailand: “Hang in there!”
In a video message, Sepulveda, known as “Super Mario” for helping keep his comrades’ spirits up during their ordeal, said his thoughts were with the 12 boys and their coach, so much so that he is trying to organize a trip to Thailand to help. The mission to rescue the football team from their flooded cave has resurrected memories of the Chilean mining accident eight years ago.
Then, the world held its breath as Sepulveda and 32 others survived nearly 10 weeks underground before finally being hauled to the surface one by one.
Dressed in a yellow vest, orange miner’s helmet and headlamp, Sepulveda sent a brief but energetic message to the members of the Wild Boar football team in a 40-second video.
“Mucha fuerza!” he told them, which roughly translates as “Hang in there” or “Much strength.”
He said he was trying to raise funds to travel to Thailand himself and help the rescue effort however he can.
“I’m going to see what’s possible. I’m calling someone from the (Chilean) government to try to get some money together. I think it’s important as a country for us to be there, after what we miners went through,” he said during a visit to Mexico City.
“I would love to go. I think it would be extremely important to support the families, give them a hug. Words of encouragement are important.”
A massive international rescue operation is exploring the options to get them out, none of them simple — just like in the case of the miners trapped in 2010.
“I don’t have the slightest doubt that if the (Thai) government give it everything they have and make every humanly possible effort, the rescue will be a success,” said Sepulveda, a gregarious dynamo who speaks in a swirling torrent of words. Rescuers say there are three main options to extract the boys: diving out of the cave system, exiting through another hole if one can be found — or drilled — or waiting out the monsoon season underground.
Diving out is risky, since the boys have never dived before and some may not be able to swim. Sepulveda urged the authorities to waste no time and spare no expense.