Tesla′s Elon Musk apologizes for ′pedo′ comment on Thai cave rescuer | News | DW | 18.07.2018
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Tesla's Elon Musk apologizes for 'pedo' comment on Thai cave rescuer

Tesla boss Elon Musk has apologized to British caver Vern Unsworth for comments he made while several Thai boys were being rescued from a cave. Unsworth might still pursue legal action against the entrepreneur.

Tesla founder Elon Musk said on Wednesday he was sorry for insulting remarks he made on Twitter about a British volunteer who was part of the rescue mission that freed 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand.

Musk said his comments on Vern Unsworth, which included calling the caver a "pedo" — short for pedophile — were an overreaction to Unsworth's criticism of his attempt to take part in the operation.

"His [Unsworth's] actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader," Musk said in a tweet. "The fault in mine and mine alone."

Unsworth said on Wednesday that he was aware that Musk had apologized, but declined to comment on whether he would still seek to take legal action against him.

The caver had criticized Musk during the rescue, saying that his plan to deploy a mini submarine along the winding cave was a publicity "stunt" and doomed to failure.

 He said the Tesla and SpaceX boss could "stick his submarine where it hurts."

Exchange of insults

"It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like. The submarine was about 5 feet 6 inches long (1.7 meters), rigid, so it wouldn't have gone round corners or round any obstacles. It wouldn't have made the first 50 meters into the cave," he told CNN.

Read more: Thailand's cave boys crave sushi, crispy pork as they recover in hospital

Musk questioned Unsworth's role in the rescue, calling him in a series of now-deleted tweets a "suss [suspicious] British expat guy who lives in Thailand."

In addition to writing that "no gear" would have been required to reach deep into the cave, Musk also said he intended to prove the submarine would have helped by testing it and calling Unsworth a "pedo guy," using an abbreviation for pedophile with no evidence to support his inflammatory accusation.

Twitter users said it was "dangerous" of Musk to make such claims in posts that go out his 22 million followers.  

Musk was in Thailand as experts gathered close to the Tham Luang cave to devise the best way to bring the Wild Boars football team out of the tunnel, where they'd been stuck since June 24.

'Backup option'

The billionaire described on Twitter how he had gained access to the cave and carried out his own assessment of the situation.

"Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts ... leaving here in case it may be useful in the future," Musk wrote.

He later dropped off the mini-sub in person to the rescue team, having christened it Wild Boar, after the soccer team.

Musk has defended his involvement, saying that his team was asked to come up with a backup option, and had been told by another British diver, Richard Stanton, that the submarine "may well be used" in the event of the return of heavy rains.

Read more: Thai cave rescue: Child psychologist warns media hype is harmful to kids

Inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center)

Last week's three-day operation to free the 12 boys and their coach from the Tham Luang cave was a complete success

Mission accomplished 

 After spending up to 18 days in the cave, the entire football team was rescued last week in a grueling three-day operation involving expert divers to help them navigate narrow, submerged passageways.

The group is currently recovering in hospital in Chiang Rai and is expected to be discharged on Wednesday.

sms, tj/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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