By MARUT BOONYANAREUMIT,
A FINNISH man and a Polish woman were found yesterday after having been lost in Khao Yai National Park for three days. The exhausted tourists were located four kilometres from the park office, in Nakhon Ratchasima province.
The pair – Henri Jalantor, 26, and Justyna Katarzyna, 25, both nature researchers – told reporters later they survived by digging up bamboo shoots to eat and drinking creek water while wandering through the park.
Katarzyna recalled that they went into the jungle without telling park officials on the afternoon of January 9. On the first night, they were unable to get a phone signal to call for help so they slept by a creek. They spent the second night in the woods, laying near a hill and the third night in a cave. She said they ate bamboo shoots and drank creek water to survive. “I’m very happy to get out of the forest,” she added.
After receiving distress calls from the pair at 10pm on Monday, some 100 park officials – divided into 11 teams on foot and one team on a helicopter – began their search early yesterday morning. The national park straddles Prachin Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Saraburi provinces. The park office also called on phone operator AIS to help triangulate the pair’s last phone signals – and that showed they were in the Haew Suwat Waterfall area. Rangers finally located them at 1pm yesterday on a trekking route, 100 metres away from the waterfall.
Assistant park chief Pokkrong Thongneukhaeng said the spot where the pair was found was 4km from the park office, and normally this spot is inaccessible to tourists unless they are accompanied by officials because wild animals often pass through the area. It was fortunate they were safe, he said, because officials noticed many footprints of animals in the area.
Park officials urged visitors to inform them before entering the jungle, so they can get a guide and won’t get lost.