Thai cave rescue: British diver considering legal action after Elon Musk 'pedo' tweet

Thai cave rescue: British diver considering legal action after Elon Musk 'pedo' tweet
PHOTO: Reuters

A British caver who helped rescue 12 boys from a Thai cave said Monday he may take legal action against Elon Musk after the entrepreneur called him a "pedo".

Tesla CEO Musk launched the extraordinary tirade against Vernon Unsworth without providing any justification or explanation, after the cave expert slammed his offer of a miniature submarine to extract the footballers from the Tham Luang cave as a "PR stunt".

The "Wild Boar" team were rescued last week by an international team of divers through a narrow network of twisting, flooded tunnels.

Unsworth, who provided mapping knowledge of the cave to rescuers, said Musk's prototype would have had "absolutely no chance of working".

on Twitter

Musk responded Sunday in a bizarre series of tweets referring to Unsworth without using his name as "pedo guy".

"Pedo" is short for paedophile.

He then doubled down on the claim, tweeting from his official account to more than 22 million followers: "Bet ya a signed dollar it's true".

Thai cave rescue: How each boy is extracted in complex process

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    The 10-km long Tham Luang cave, which has been described as a labyrinth, sits near the Thai border with Myanmar.

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    Rescue divers began operations on Sunday (July 8) to extract the 12 boys and their football coach from the massive Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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    Here's how the 12 boys might dive and walk out of the complex cave network. (Graphic Not drawn to scale)

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    The boys are located more than 4km from the mouth of the cave. Most of the boys don't know how to swim.

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    According to experts, divers required three hours to reach the boys from the mouth of the cave, Reuters reported. The boys' ordeal is expected to last 3 or more hours.

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    This undated handout photo taken recently and released by the Royal Thai Navy on July 7, 2018 shows a Thai Navy diver in the cave during rescue operations.

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    The boys will have to first dive for 400m before reaching Pattaya Beach, a chamber more than 4km from the cave's entrance. Then, they have to dive for another 130m before walking and climbing along a 400m-long dry area.

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    The first, nearly 1km-long section from where the boys have been huddling in darkness is believed to be the most difficult, requiring a long dive and crawling through mud and debris, with some crevices barely wide enough for a person.

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    The 5-km escape route cuts through dark, flooded and narrow passageways, as this still from a video circulating online shows.

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    How each boy will be tethered to the 2 adult rescue divers. Once past the first stretch, the boys' escape route forks east at a T-junction, and they must scrabble over some diverse terrain including giant boulders, sand and slippery rocks with sudden cliff-like drops and further submerged passageways.

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    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

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    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

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    "The hole is really small, I have to take off my air tank to crawl through it," a 25-year-old Thai Navy Seal told Reuters before the rescue attempt. "As I do, I feel the edges of the hole on both my back and chest."

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    Rescue divers will have to remove their scuba tanks and roll them along while guiding the boys through. After that though, the tunnels widen, the waters subside, and walking is even possible.

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    There are several 'choke points' in the complex cave network. After the dreaded T-junction, the rest of the journey is expected to be relatively safe as they will have reached a forward operating base inside the cave.

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    Ambulances wait at the mouth of the cave to whisk the boys away to hospital when they emerge.

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    Divers resuming the rescue mission on Monday (July 9).

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    Police and military personnel use umbrellas to cover around a stretcher near a helicopter and an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai on July 9, 2018.

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    Rescuers venturing into the cave in a photo released on July 7 by the Thai Royal Navy.

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    The high-risk operation at the Tham Luang caves paused overnight on Sunday (July 8) as rescuers recovered and oxygen tanks were replenished along the route.

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    Torchlight only affords visibility up to three feet in the murky waters.

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    A nearby hospital ready to receive the boys after they are rescued.

Musk later deleted the tweets and did not immediately respond to a request for comment through Tesla.

Unsworth told AFP on Monday he had not reviewed the tweets in full and had only heard about them.

Asked if he would take legal action against Musk over the allegation, Unsworth said: "If it's what I think it is yes."

The caver told AFP he would make a decision when he flies back to the UK this week, but said the episode with Musk "ain't finished".

"He's just a PR stunt merchant -- that's all he is," Unsworth added.

ALSO READ: Thai cave rescue: These are the heroes who made it all possible

Unsworth, who lives part of the year in Thailand, took part in the gargantuan 18-day effort to retrieve the 12 boys and their coach, a mission that ended on July 10 when the last five members were extracted.

The boys got stuck in the cave after wandering in on June 23 after football practice only to find themselves trapped by rising floodwaters.

They were found nine days later on a muddy embankment several kilometres inside.

The unprecedented operation to haul them out involved sedating the footballers and swimming and carrying them through tight, waterlogged passages.

The boys are all in good health and expected to be released from the hospital Thursday.

on Twitter

Musk's tweets prompted condemnation from those who took part in the mission to save the boys.

Claus Rasmussen, a Danish national and instructor at Blue Label diving in Phuket, called the allegations "inappropriate" and praised Unsworth's role in the rescue.

"He was the guy who effectively mapped most of that cave," he told AFP.

"He was one of the driving forces in getting everything done and clarifying for us divers what was going on."

Musk had earlier provoked condemnation after tweeting that the Thai rescue chief, who had declined the submarine prototype offer, was not really in charge of the operation.

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