Elon Musk calls hero Thai cave diver a 'pedo guy' after he dismissed the billionaire's submarine rescue plan as implausible
Musk had traveled to the Tham Luang caverns in Chiang Rai, Thailand last week and had presented the international rescue team with a six-foot submarine.
The billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk, attempted to smear the "hero" British caver who assisted in the nearly impossible rescue mission of 12 Thai boys and their coach from a flooded underground cave in Thailand. Elon, in a spat with Vern Unsworth, the caver, launched an uncorroborated personal attack and called him a "pedo guy" on Twitter.
The 12 boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach were found two weeks ago by British divers, days after they went missing during an excursion with their coach into the Tham Luang cave network on June 23 and were trapped because of the rising waters. The grueling rescue mission was assisted by an international team of experts who ensured the boys got out of the cave safely after 18 days of low oxygen and a limited supply of food and water.
Elon's outburst came as the British caver Unsworth, in a CNN interview, told the billionaire to "stick his submarine where it hurts" while describing his offer to assist the Thai search and rescue mission with a miniature submarine as a "PR stunt."
Reports state that during the rescue mission last week, the business magnate had traveled to the Tham Luang caverns in Chiang Rai, Thailand and had presented the rescuers with a six-foot submarine. The billionaire investor had claimed that his submarine could help save the stranded boys. He sent 10 engineers from SpaceX; Tesla, his electric car company; and the Boring Co., which specializes in tunneling and construction to the cave site.
However, Unsworth, who was instrumental in saving the boys and led parts of the operation, said that the submarine presented to them "had absolutely no chance of working" because the SpaceX and Tesla head "had no conception of what the cave passage was like." He told CNN, "The submarine, I believe, was about five-foot-six long, rigid, so it wouldn't have gone round corners or round any obstacles."
It was Unsworth who initially pinpointed where he thought the Wild Boars team would be waiting. They were found 200 meters away from that point, which was "probably around about the best place they could have been," he said. Unsworth also said he had very early on in the operation realized the need for expert help and had advised the Thai authorities to bring in specialist cave divers who had dealt with similar rescues in the past. "It was a race against time," he said. "They needed world class divers and that's what we got."
"Just to get any of them out alive would have been a miracle. But to get 13 out of 13 ... won't happen again," he said at the end of the rescue mission. "(It's the) biggest miracle ever."
However, his dismissal of Elon's submarine riled the inventor who launched personal attacks at the British caver in a series of tweets and said: "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it." Elon also attempted to cast doubt on whether the Unsworth was even involved in the Thai rescue mission as he wrote on Twitter: "Never saw him at the cave."
The billionaire faced heavy backlash on the popular micro-blogging site for the 'pedo' comment, however, he stood by his claims and added: "Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true."
Despite the Space X CEO's claims, Unsworth knows the entire Tham Luang cave system in Thailand where the boys were stranded and has even spent years in the country exploring the cavern network. In an attempt to defend himself from criticism on Twitter, Elon also tweeted a screenshot of an email from British diving expert Richard Stanton, while co-led the dive rescue team, and said that the email clearly stated that he was encouraged by the team to continue working on his submarine. Elon, however, on Sunday, deleted his barrage of tweets which had caused the controversy.
The entrepreneur also added that the head of the rescue operation, former provincial governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, had been wrongly described as the "rescue chief" and added that Osottanakorn is not an expert in cave rescue. Osottanakorn had reportedly rejected the idea of using Elon's submarine in the mission.
All the 12 boys and their coach are now recovering from their ordeal and were put in isolation in a hospital, as doctors checked for any signs of infection they may have caught during their weeks in the dark, bat-infested cavern.