Elon Musk hits out at Thai rescue chief who turned down mini-submarine offer

Elon Musk has questioned the role of the man who turned down his offer of a mini-submarine to help in the rescue of the trapped schoolboys from a flooded Thai cave.

Chiang Rai provincial Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn was at the heart of the successful mission to free 12 boys and their football coach after more than two weeks deep underground, but Mr Musk claimed it was inaccurate to describe him as the "rescue chief".

The Tesla boss also released an email exchange with one of the rescue mission's lead divers, showing the tech billionaire had been encouraged to continue work on the miniature submarine he hastily developed to aid the rescue of the boys.

Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn speaks at a media conference.

Upon delivery of the submarine yesterday, Mr Osatanakorn told Mr Musk that it would not be suitable for the operation.

Mr Musk had tweeted video of test runs of the "tiny, kid-size submarine" that he said had been developed with "feedback from Thailand".

External Link: Elon Musk tweet: The former Thai provincial governor (described inaccurately as “rescue chief”) is not the subject matter expert. That would be Dick Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team. This is our direct correspondence:

The final members of the team, aged 11 to 16, and their coach were removed from the cave yesterday and are now quarantined in hospital amid concerns for their health.

With some of the team still stranded yesterday, Mr Musk visited the Tham Luang cave to drop off the submarine.

But Mr Osatanakorn told him the device was not practical for the rescue mission.

Responding to a media report of the incident, Mr Musk said it was not accurate to describe Mr Osatanakorn as the rescue chief and that he was "not the subject matter expert".

Richard Stanton, left, and John Volanthen arrive in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand on July 3, 2018.

He also tweeted part of an email conversation with British cave expert Richard Stanton, one of the divers who initially found the boys, in which Mr Stanton says "it is absolutely worth continuing with development of this system".

In the conversation, Mr Stanton also reveals "we're worried about the smallest lad" in the group.

"It is absolutely worth continuing with development of this system in as timely a manner as feasible. If the rain holds out it may well be used," Mr Stanton wrote.

View inside a section of cave with a high ceiling, as four people walk through shallow waters. There are lights in the cave.

Mr Musk told Mr Stanton the submarine was being designed by "one of the world's best engineering teams who normally design spaceships and spacesuits".

"[The] operating principal is the same as spacecraft design — no loss of life even with two failures," he wrote.

External Link: Elon Musk tweet submarine in pool

When spruiking his submarine on Monday, Mr Musk said the design had four "handles/hitch points" on both the front and back of the device, adding: "Two air tank connections on front and two on rear, allowing one to four tanks simultaneously connected, all recessed for impact protection [with] secondary cap seal if leak develops."

It also has "segmented compartments to place rocks or dive weights [and] adjust buoyancy".

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