Auto possibly belonging to missing Thai students found

Faith Castro
August 13, 2017

American authorities insist they need to proceed with extreme caution to recover the bodies of two Thai students from a river 150 metres below a cliff in California, according to the Thai consulate in Los Angeles.

Family members of the two students arrived in Los Angeles Saturday and went to the crash site where a monk led them in Buddhist prayer, said the Thai consulate, according to The Associated Press. Officials also feared that the airlift of the wreck could result in the vehicle breaking apart and the students' bodies could be washed away over a waterfall not far downstream.

"The students' relatives gave an interview to the AP News that they were thinking of hiring a private rescuer if necessary to recover the bodies as it has been 15 days", the consulate said in its statement.

Bhakapon Chairatanathongporn and Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, exchange students attending the University Of South Florida, are believed to be trapped inside the wrecked auto, which is perched on rocks and surrounded by powerful rapids.

Thanee Saengrat, the Thai consul-general in Los Angeles, phoned Fresno County supervisor Nathan Magsig twice to inquire about the recovery, the consulate said. Steel told the families that she had been informed by the Fresno county office that a rescue team would descend the cliff and draw up a plan to retrieve the students and the vehicle. I realize this is a hard situation and want you to know that our goal is to recover your family members in a respectful manner as soon as an opportunity presents itself. "We ask for their patience during this delicate recovery process".

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The consulate has expressed frustration for how long the recovery has taken.

"(California Highway Patrol) and local authorities have treated this case as a missing person's case until officials can prove identities of those involved in the vehicle accident", the consulate wrote then.

'A date of when this will happen is still to be determined, ' he added.

Police said that the airbags had been deployed and were blocking authorities from seeing inside. A military helicopter was used to survey the area Thursday.

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