Rescuers used Israeli tech to locate football team in Thailand cave

Maxtech's Uzi Hanuni tells the JC he's thrilled by the outcome


An Israeli engineer has spoken of the joy he felt when the last group of young footballers emerged after 18 days trapped in a Thai cave, after his technology helped with the rescue.

“I don’t know the words in English, but you can’t find a happier person around here,” Uzi Hanuni told the JC on Wednesday, just after receiving an invitation to a special celebratory event at the Thai embassy in Israel.

He added: “It’s very hard for me to express my emotions, I’m thrilled. It’s a magical feeling.”

Rescue workers were struggling to talk to each other and coordinate their efforts when they started the operation. Their problem was that while two-way radios work well in open areas, their range can become tiny in caves and around rocks.

48 hours after the boys went missing, Thai authorities made contact with local agents for Mr Hanuni’s company Maxtech, asking to use its technology.

Each of its radios act as a transmitter for nearby devices, allowing rescue workers to talk to each other between multiple caverns.

While the range of normal radios dropped to as little as 100 metres around the caves, Mr Hanuni’s system allowed voice contact between rescuers stationed as much as a kilometre apart from each other.

Mr Hanuni appeared on Israeli TV and radio as the rescue operation moved into its final stages, talking about the most high-profile Israeli technology of the moment.

He told one television interviewer: “We understood that the only way for those rescue forces to enter into this deep cave was using resilient and good communication that can survive this tough environment.”

Maxtech rushed approximately 20 units to Thailand along with an Israeli technician to set them up. The company refused to charge a fee, it said, feeling it was not right to negotiate fees during an emergency.

Resembling a walkie-talkie, the devices contain a sophisticated algorithm developed at Maxtech’s offices near Tel Aviv which allows them to relay voice and data.

The technology eliminates the conventional requirement for radios to be in a line-of-sight for prime operation.

Mr Hanuni said it felt “amazing” knowing that his devices helped the rescue.

He said: “I felt that I contributed something great to the world. In the Jewish tradition, if a person saves a life it is as if he saved a whole world, and my company and I played a part in saving the lives of 13 kids.”

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