Thai boys wave to camera in first video since cave rescue

Elon Musk’s cave rescue submarine may be used in future missions, says Thai military official

Tech billionaire's proposal to save trapped football team was previously dismissed as impractical 

Muktita Suhartono,Julia Jacobs
Friday 13 July 2018 10:03

Thailand may have use for Elon Musk’s “kid-sized” submarine after all.

The tech billionaire had designed the miniature submarine, built with rocket parts, to help save the 12 boys and their 25-year-old football coach trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand. On Tuesday, rescuers pulled off an improbable feat when they finished removing all 13 people from the Tham Luang Cave.

They saved the football team without the help of Musk’s submarine, which was built by engineers from his companies who travelled to the remote area of Thailand starting on Saturday.

The chief of the rescue mission had called the device “not practical” for the operation, which required squeezing through narrow passageways in the cave, but a Thai military official said the mini-submarine could be useful for future rescue missions.

Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakham, the deputy commander to Thailand’s Third Army, said on Wednesday that the mini-submarine would be appropriate for use in open water and that he had heard the technology would be given to the Thai navy SEAL team.

In a tweet on Thursday, a translator based in Bangkok said engineers from SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company, trained members of the Thai navy to use the mini-submarine.

Dozens of Navy SEALs were involved in the rescue effort, and last week, a former Thai Navy SEAL lost consciousness and died while placing air canisters on a route within the cave being used in the rescue effort.

Musk responded to the photos of the training session on Twitter, saying the engineers were also getting feedback from British divers on how the technology could be improved. Representatives for Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

Musk sent 10 engineers from SpaceX; Tesla, his electric car company; and the Boring Co., which specialises in tunnelling and construction.

As the Thai government celebrated the success of the mission and considered how they could use Musk’s quickly assembled invention, the 12 boys and their football coach were recovering under quarantine in a hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand. All were improving quickly, the country’s top public health official had said.

The New York Times

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