- Tesla CEO Elon Musk attacked diver Vernon Unsworth over Thai cave rescue
- Mr Unsworth accused Musk of staging a 'PR stunt' by building a submarine which the billionaire claimed could be used to help save the boys
- Musk branded Mr Unsworth 'pedo guy' in a tweet while providing no evidence
- Mr Unsworth said the incident 'isn't over' and suggested he plans to sue Musk
A British cave diver who helped rescue 12 boys from a Thai cave has said he may sue Elon Musk after the entrepreneur called him a 'pedo' on Twitter.
Vernon Unsworth, who used his expert knowledge to help find and rescue the trapped boys, said he has not seen Musk's tweets and will weigh up his options when he is back in the UK.
Asked if he will take legal action against Musk he said 'if it's what I think it is yes' before adding: 'This ain't finished.'
Mr Unsworth began sparring with the tech billionaire after accusing Musk of staging a 'PR stunt' by building a mini-submarine to help rescue the trapped boys.
He said Musk's prototype would have had 'absolutely no chance of working'.
'The submarine, I believe, was about 5ft 6in long, rigid, so it wouldn't have gone round corners or round any obstacles,' he said.
Musk then hit back on Sunday in a bizarre series of tweets in which he pledged to produce videos proving the sub would have worked.
'Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it,' he said, referring to Mr Unsworth.
When people pointed out that he was calling the man who helped find and rescue the children a paedophile, Musk added: '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.
'He's just a PR stunt merchant - that's all he is,' Unsworth added.
Unsworth told The Guardian that he believes Musk has 'lost the plot', saying: 'I don't know the guy, never met the guy, and don't want to meet the guy.'
He added: 'I have a lot of support from people around the world astonished by his unfounded comments.'
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 (miles) 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.
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.
The billionaire then shared what he claimed was a transcript of his emails with Stanton in which the diver encourages him to build the sub, saying 'it may well be used'
'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.
Musk also took to Twitter to bemoan being labelled a billionaire in reports about his involvement in the rescue - despite the fact he's worth £15billion.
'Ironically, the 'billionaire' label, when used by media, is almost always meant to devalue & denigrate the subject' he said.
'I wasn't called that until my companies got to a certain size, but reality is that I still do the same science & engineering as before. Just the scale has changed.'
It comes as Musk denies being a top donor to a PAC aimed at keeping Republican control of US Congress - despite being listed on the Federal Election Commission's website as being so.
'Reports that I am a top donor to GOP are categorically false. I am not a top donor to any political party,' he tweeted Saturday, following The Hill's report on the annual fillings released by the FEC this week.
The FEC shows Musk was among the top 50 donors to the Protect The House, Political Action Committee (PAC) giving a total of $38,900.
The sum is modest in comparison to other donors in the FEC filings. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen donated $100,000 to the PAC while Houston Texans owner Bob McNair gave $371,500.
Perhaps Musk is parsing words, being in the top 50 out of 350 people may not constitute a 'top donor' for Musk.
Reports also emerged Monday that two Australian divers who took part in the rescue had obtained diplomatic immunity before the operation in case it failed.
Anaesthetist Richard Harris and diver Craig Challen were protected from prosecution if anything went awry following negotiations between Australian and Thai authorities, according to Australian broadcaster ABC.
Challen said the divers had been uncertain if they would be able to save all 12 boys and their coach in the 'life and death' rescue mission.
'It wasn't dangerous for us, but I can't emphasise enough how dangerous it was for the kids,' he told Perth's Sunday Times.
WHAT WAS ELON MUSK'S PLAN TO SAVE THE THAI CHILDREN TRAPPED IN FLOODED TUNNELS?
Twelve young footballers and their 25-year-old coach became trapped in a flooded cave system in Thailand on June 23, 2018.
Divers and other rescue worker worked frantically to come up with a plan to free the youngsters imprisoned in the Tham Luang Nang Non caves.
On July 6, almost two weeks later, billionaire Elon Musk shared suggestions for those working on the ground after receiving tweets requesting his input.
Musk also committed to sending top engineers from his Boring Co. and SpaceX companies to help free the trapped schoolchildren.
According to the Tesla CEO, rescuers could use electric pumps to remove water from flooded entrance of the cave network – eliminating one of the bodies of water those trapped would need to cross.
Nylon tubes measuring some 3ft (1m) in diameter could then be fed through the cave network to the flooded sections.
Battery packs and air pumps would be used to inflate the nylon tubes, submerged underwater. These tubes would provide an escape tunnel the children could crawl through to safety, Musk suggests.
However, Professor John Gunn from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and chair of the cave research association, had reservations about details of the scheme.
He said: 'If you imagine a tunnel under London flooded, this this would be straight with a few bends.
'However, this is more like asking to thread a pipe through all the aisles of a supermarket, up the stairs, down the stairs and then back through the aisles and also in total darkness and underwater.
'You can see it is more complicated. If he was proposing the pipe is moved by divers then I think that’s a non-starter.'