Elon Musk sends engineers to help Thai cave rescue mission

A row of new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles is seen at a parking lot in Richmond California

Thai navy SEALs say rescuers have taken four members of a youth soccer team out of the cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, part of an operation to rescue the 12 boys and their coach. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam, says that the most pressing mission now is to provide an oxygen line to reach the kids.

Musk tweeted the announcement after another Twitter user pleaded for him to help the 12 boys and their coach, who have been underground for nearly two weeks. By Friday afternoon, Musk's thinking had evolved.

Musk then started brainstorming ideas to help via tweet.

The mini-submarine created by SpaceX engineers may not play a role in the crisis it was designed for - the Thai cave rescue drama that's now speeding to a resolution - but it could be a lifesaver for future space missions. For pumps, cave has narrowest 70cm cross section and about 5km to 13 guys. Numerous passageways leading into the cave are narrow, and most of the boys do not know how to swim. One of the problems faced by rescuers is that the boys do not know how to dive, and the path leading out of the cave is said to be complicated even for seasoned professionals.

Officials have also contemplated supplying the boys and their coach with food, water and oxygen to stay in the cave potentially for months until the monsoon ends and waters recede. On top of that, Thailand is just entering its rainy season.

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Rescue crews have also been working to drain the water so the boys would not be as reliant on scuba diving to get to safety, but heavy rain expected Saturday could complicate the matter.

The kind of tiny submarine Musk is describing could allow professional divers to bring the boys out without requiring the boys to do anything more than lay still.

There's been talk of escape pods to get the teenagers out, as well as an inflatable tube with airlocks. In a Friday evening tweet he described this option as "less likely to work, given tricky contours, but great if it does".

But Saturday night, he tweeted that the cave was now closed for the rescue by divers.

Dr Suttisak Soralump of Kasetsart University said earlier that the Tham Luang challenge is also much more hard than the 2010 Chilean mine collapse in terms of the attempt to drill the cave to rescue those trapped inside.

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