Thai cave rescuer tells Elon Musk to stick his submarine ‘where it hurts’

A British volunteer who was part of the rescue mission that freed 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand has criticized attempts by billionaire Elon Musk to muscle in on the operation.

Vern Unsworth said that Musk’s plan to deploy a mini submarine along the winding cave was a publicity “stunt” and doomed to failure.

He said the Tesla and SpaceX boss could “stick his submarine where it hurts.”

Wouldn’t have got far

“It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like. The submarine was about five foot six inches long (1.7 meters), rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or round any obstacles. It wouldn’t have made the first fifty meters into the cave,” he told CNN.

Read more: Thailand’s cave boys crave sushi, crispy pork as they recover in hospital

Musk arrived in Thailand as experts gathered close to the Tham Luang cave to devise the best way to bring the Wild Boars football team out of the tunnel, from where they’d been stuck since June 24.

The billionaire then described on Twitter how he had gained access to the cave and carried out his own assessment of the situation.

“Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts … leaving here in case it may be useful in the future,” Musk wrote.

He later dropped off the mini-sub in person to the rescue team, having christened it Wild Boar, after the soccer team.

Read more: Thai cave rescue: Child psychologist warns media hype is harmful to kids

Inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center)

Last week’s three-day operation to free the 12 boys and their coach from the Tham Luang cave was a complete success

Musk ‘asked to leave very quickly’

Unsworth hit out at Musk’s decision to go into the cave, saying “he was asked to leave very quickly, as he should have been.”

Earlier in the rescue mission, Chiang Rai provincial Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn had also said that Musk’s submarine was not practical.

Musk has defended his involvement, saying that his team was asked to come up with a backup option, and had been told by another British diver, Richard Stanton, that the submarine “may well be used” in the event of the return of heavy rains.

After spending up to 18 days in the day, the entire football team was rescued last week in a grueling three-day operation involving expert divers to help them navigate narrow, submerged passageways.

The group are currently recovering in hospital in Chiang Rai and is expected to be discharged this week.

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