Elon Musk ramps up efforts to help boys trapped in cave


Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk has said there has been “some good feedback” from experts helping to rescue the football team trapped in a Thai cave.

The billionaire entrepreneur has sent engineers to help the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their football coach who have been stuck in a cave following a flash flood for almost two weeks.

Musk tweeted on Saturday: “Some good feedback from cave experts in Thailand.

“Iterating with them on an escape pod design that might be safe enough to try.

“Also building an inflatable tube with airlocks.

“Less likely to work, given tricky contours, but great if it does.”

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Musk’s company, Boring Co, which digs tunnels for transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar, is being utilised to help rescue the team.

Rescue workers attempt to make a path to the stranded boys in Thailand caves 1:00
Video: Pumping out water in Thai cave rescue

“Will do my best to help the team,” he tweeted, before adding: “The team will dig deep and will help at the best of ability.”

Among his tweets about the rescue, he also said: “But let’s not submit to the bad mood entirely. And for that I have a surprise to brighten up the day.”

He then tweeted a link to a Tesla giveaway.

The boys are around 2.5 miles (4km) from the entrance
Image: The boys are around 2.5 miles (4km) from the entrance

Musk was approached on Twitter to help the footballers and initially said Thai authorities probably had it under control.

He went on to share ideas about possible technology for a safe evacuation, suggesting that an air tunnel constructed with soft tubing like a bouncy castle could provide flexible passage out.

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He said: “Boring Co has advanced ground penetrating radar & is pretty good at digging holes. Don’t know if pump rate is limited by electric power or pumps are too small. If so, could dropship fully charged Powerpacks and pumps.”

James Yenbamroong, of a Thai aerospace company, joined in.

A graphic showing the boys' predicament
Image: A graphic showing the boys’ predicament

He tweeted: “SpaceX team reached out to us today to help connect to Thai govt. Our team connected and provided some prep feedback to your team. For pumps, cave has narrowest 70cm cross section and about 5km to 13 guys. For vertical drill, it’s about 1/2 mile down and tricky.”

Mr Musk replied: “Maybe worth trying: insert a 1m diameter nylon tube (or shorter set of tubes for most difficult sections) through cave network & inflate with air like a bouncy castle. Should create an air tunnel underwater against cave roof & auto-conform to odd shapes like the 70cm hole.”

Samarn Gunan was an ex Thai Navy diver
Image: Samarn Gunan was killed during the rescue operation

One of the main working theories of how to retrieve the boys is to train them to dive out of the cave.

The boys are said to be in good health and have practised wearing diving masks and breathing in preparation for the potential complex dive.

However, the dive is complex – with one Navy SEAL dying during the rescue efforts – and many of the boys do not know how to swim.

Alternative options are being considered, including finding a shaft or drilling into the mountain in which the cave is located. Another option is to wait until the monsoon season ends in several months and for the waters trapping them to recede.

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The amount of oxygen in the cave is diminishing, forcing rescuers to attempt to establish a line to pump in fresh air.

It comes as those trapped in the cave have sent out notes to their loved ones, including a letter of apology from the coach.

From – SkyNews