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A Thai Cave Rescuer Said Elon Musk Can "Stick His Submarine Where it Hurts"

The diver dismissed Musk’s rescue efforts-which included a mini-submarine-as a "PR stunt."
IMAGE David McNew/AFP/Getty Images
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Elon Musk waded into last week’s cave rescue of a Thai youth soccer team, tossing off impressively science-y sounding rescue tips on Twitter and showing up at the mouth of the cave, "kid-sized" submarine in tow. After Thai authorities turned down his assistance and successfully rescued the boys themselves, critics—including a member of the recovery team—are saying that the Tesla and SpaceX founder used the cave rescue as an opportunity for a publicity stunt.

"It had absolutely no chance of working," said British diver Vern Unsworth of Musk’s submarine. Unsworth, who lives in Thailand and regularly explores the Tham Luang caves where the boys were trapped, was integral to the team’s rescue. He dismissed Musk’s sub as totally unfit for the job. "The submarine, I believe, was about five foot six long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or round any obstacles," said Unsworth. "It wouldn’t have made the first 50 meters into the cave."

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When his interviewer pointed out that Musk had entered the caves himself, Unsworth shrugged, looking disgusted. Musk "was asked to leave very quickly," he said. "And so he should have been."

On Twitter, Musk described the criticism as having "shaken" his view of people.

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Musk's last attention-getting aid work came in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, when he proposed that Tesla rebuild Puerto Rico's demolished electrical grid. Though the company sent a thousand of its battery packs to the island, many Puerto Ricans stilldon't have reliable electricity. But Musk has already turned towards the next headline-grabbing humanitarian crisis—he's now promising to fix Flint’s tainted water.

As for the kiddie submarine, Musk decided to leave it in Thailand, in case authorities in that country might one day need it. Or they could use it as a rocket-escape pod.

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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