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British caver who helped save Thai boys says Elon Musk ‘can stick his submarine where it hurt’

A British diver who helped rescue 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in the cave has slammed Elon Musk for creating a ‘child-sized’ submarine as a ‘PR stunt’ and said the billionaire ‘can stick his submarine where it hurts’.

Vernon Unsworth, a British caver who lives in Thailand lashed out after the Telsa CEO travelled to the country to build ‘a mini submarine’ that he said would help rescue the trapped boys.

‘It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like,’ Unsworth told CNN.

Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during a Boring Co. event in Los Angeles

Vernon Unsworth (left) a British caver who lives in Thailand lashed out after Elon Musk (right) travelled to Thailand and to build ‘a mini submarine’

Elon Musk designed a child-sized submarine out of rocket parts that he hoped could be used to rescue some of the soccer players trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand 

Elon Musk designed a child-sized submarine out of rocket parts that he hoped could be used to rescue some of the soccer players trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand 

‘The submarine, I believe, was about five-foot-six long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or round any obstacles.’   

Mr Unsworth knows the Tham Luang cave system where the boys were trapped very well, as he has spent years exploring it.

Musk was mocked online after the boys were rescued without the aid of his submarine – but he has hit back at critics and said the dive teams encouraged him to continue the work. 

Musk tweeted a screenshot of an email from Richard Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team, asking him to keep working on the submarine.

He said that ‘former provincial governor’ Narongsak Osottanakorn had been wrongly described as the ‘rescue chief’, adding that Osottanakorn – the man who rejected his sub – is no expert in cave rescue.

The actual expert, according to Musk, is a man by the name of Richard Stanton who encouraged him to build the submarine, saying it ‘may well be used’.  

Photos released by The Chiang Rai Hospital showing boys that have been recused from caves in Northern Thiland

Photos released by The Chiang Rai Hospital showing boys that have been recused from caves in Northern Thiland

Musk took aim at Osottanakorn in a barbed tweet on Tuesday afternoon in which he downplayed his role in the rescue and suggested a man named Dick Stanton was the expert

Musk took aim at Osottanakorn in a barbed tweet on Tuesday afternoon in which he downplayed his role in the rescue and suggested a man named Dick Stanton was the expert

The billionaire then shared what he claimed was a transcript of his emails with Stanton in which the diver encourages him to build the sub, saying 'it may well be used'

The billionaire then shared what he claimed was a transcript of his emails with Stanton in which the diver encourages him to build the sub, saying ‘it may well be used’

But he adds: ‘I don’t want to put it on a plane if you think important changes are needed.’

Stanton responds: ‘It is absolutely worth continuing with the development of this system in as timely a manner as feasible. If the rain holds out it may well be used.’

Elon answers: ‘Right now, I have one [of] the world’s best engineering teams who normally design spacesuits working on this 24 hours a day.

‘We are trying to get it right in a very short period of time.

Musk also shared images of the camp which has been established around the cave mouth

Musk also shared images of the camp which has been established around the cave mouth

The tech billionaire also tweeted images from inside the cave as rescuers attempted to save the final four boys and their 25-year-old coach who is still trapped

The tech billionaire also tweeted images from inside the cave as rescuers attempted to save the final four boys and their 25-year-old coach who is still trapped

Musk was pictured meeting with Thai rescuers despite his offer of help being turned down

Musk was pictured meeting with Thai rescuers despite his offer of help being turned down

Governor  Narongsak Osottanakorn, who oversaw the rescue mission, dismissed the submarine as 'not practical for the mission'

Governor  Narongsak Osottanakorn, who oversaw the rescue mission, dismissed the submarine as ‘not practical for the mission’

 ‘If it isn’t needed or won’t help, that would be great to know. Otherwise, it would be very helpful to have as much design direction as possible.’

Musk also took to Twitter to bemoan being labelled a billionaire in reports about his involvement in the rescue – despite the fact he’s worth £15billion.   

‘Ironically, the ‘billionaire’ label, when used by media, is almost always meant to devalue & denigrate the subject’ he said.

‘I wasn’t called that until my companies got to a certain size, but reality is that I still do the same science & engineering as before. Just the scale has changed.’

Writing on the social media site, he said: 'Ironically, the “billionaire” label, when used by media, is almost always meant to devalue & denigrate the subject'

Writing on the social media site, he said: ‘Ironically, the ‘billionaire’ label, when used by media, is almost always meant to devalue & denigrate the subject’

WHAT WAS ELON MUSK’S PLAN TO SAVE THE THAI CHILDREN TRAPPED IN FLOODED TUNNELS?

Twelve young footballers and their 25-year-old coach became trapped in a flooded cave system in Thailand on June 23, 2018.

Divers and other rescue worker worked frantically to come up with a plan to free the youngsters imprisoned in the Tham Luang Nang Non caves.

On July 6, almost two weeks later, billionaire Elon Musk shared suggestions for those working on the ground after receiving tweets requesting his input.

Elon Musk said his Boring Co, which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems, could feed a nylon tube into the submerged sections of the cave before inflating it 'like a bouncy castle' to create an underwater tunnel.

Elon Musk said his Boring Co, which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems, could feed a nylon tube into the submerged sections of the cave before inflating it ‘like a bouncy castle’ to create an underwater tunnel.

Musk also committed to sending top engineers from his Boring Co. and SpaceX companies to help free the trapped schoolchildren.

According to the Tesla CEO, rescuers could use electric pumps to remove water from flooded entrance of the cave network – eliminating one of the bodies of water those trapped would need to cross.

Nylon tubes measuring some 3ft (1m) in diameter could then be fed through the cave network to the flooded sections.

Battery packs and air pumps would be used to inflate the nylon tubes, submerged underwater. These tubes would provide an escape tunnel the children could crawl through to safety, Musk suggests.

However, Professor John Gunn from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and chair of the cave research association, had reservations about details of the scheme.

He said: ‘If you imagine a tunnel under London flooded, this this would be straight with a few bends. 

‘However, this is more like asking to thread a pipe through all the aisles of a supermarket, up the stairs, down the stairs and then back through the aisles and also in total darkness and underwater.

‘You can see it is more complicated. If he was proposing the pipe is moved by divers then I think that’s a non-starter.’

 



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