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”.
Musk responded yesterday (July 15) in a bizarre series of tweets referring to Unsworth, without using his name, as “pedo guy”. “Pedo” is short for paedophile.
The entrepreneur doubled down on his claim, tweeting from his official account to more than 22 million followers: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true”.
Musk later deleted the tweets and did not immediately respond to a request for comment through Tesla.
Unsworth said today that he had not reviewed the tweets in full and had only heard about them.
But 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 said he would make a decision when he flies back to the UK this week, but added that the episode with Musk “ain’t finished”.
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 are all in good health and expected to be released from the hospital Thursday (July 19).
The unprecedented operation to haul them out involved sedating the footballers and swimming and carrying them through tight, waterlogged passages.
Musk had proposed using “a tiny, kid-size submarine” featuring technology from his space exploration firm to evacuate the boys, and travelled to Thailand with a prototype last Tuesday (July 10).
Musk’s tweets attacking Unsworth 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 one of the driving forces in getting everything done and clarifying for us divers what was going on,” he said.
Musk had earlier triggered controversy after tweeting that the Thai rescue chief, who had declined the submarine prototype offer, was not really in charge of the operation.
“He’s just a PR stunt merchant – that’s all he is,” Unsworth said.