Thailand cave rescue: Elon Musk proposes strange solution to rescue boys from underground

Tesla and SpaceX boss offers battery packs and experts to help rescue efforts

Andrew Griffin
Friday 06 July 2018 13:00 BST
Thai Navy SEALS provide medical aid to trapped football team boys

Elon Musk has offered a strange solution to help the Thai boys stuck in a cave network underground.

As well as offering staff and battery packs to the rescue effort, the SpaceX and Tesla boss suggested a way of getting the boys out of the cave in which they have been stuck.

At the moment, rescue workers are struggling to safely remove the children from the cave network because it is now filled with water. It is only accessible by divers – but there are fears that the children would be endangered if they tried to make their way out.

To fix that, Mr Musk proposed that workers instead feed a small tube into the cave network. It could then be filled with air, opening it up into the passageways that the children would need to go through and thereby allowing them simply to walk on their way back.

In effect, the tube would displace the water that is currently in the way of the boys' exit. Instead, the tube filled with air would take up the hole, allowing for a dry passageway through.

"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," he wrote on Twitter. "Should create an air tunnel underwater against cave roof & auto-conform to odd shapes like the 70cm hole."

Mr Musk has offered his companies' help in trying to get the children out of the cave. Initially, he appeared to be discussing the possibility of drilling a hole using technology created by his Boring Company.

"Boring Co has advanced ground penetrating radar & is pretty good at digging holes," he wrote on Twitter. "Don’t know if pump rate is limited by electric power or pumps are too smal. If so, could dropship fully charged Powerpacks and pumps."

But it appears that such a suggestion wouldn't be possible because of the difficulty of drilling into the right place. Instead, Mr Musk suggested that the tube option may work and that he would send his staff there to help find if there were more possibilities.

"SpaceX & Boring Co engineers headed to Thailand tomorrow to see if we can be helpful to govt," he wrote on Twitter. "There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person."

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