Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk is sending engineers to Thailand to help rescue the trapped 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave.
While the boys have received basic diving training, local officials say they are not ready to dive out yet.
The Thai official leading the rescue attempt said the boys have been shown how to breathe through diving equipment, however the training is not substantial enough.
“The boys are not suitable. They cannot dive out at this time – the problem is the children’s readiness to dive,” said Narongsak Osottanakorn, the commander of the rescue mission.
He said there were no plans to pull the boys out overnight, but if more monsoon rains fell and water rose in the Tham Luang cave, rescuers may have to change their plans.
SpaceX & Boring Co engineers headed to Thailand tomorrow to see if we can be helpful to govt. There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2018
Mr Musk said he would be “happy to help if there is a way to do so”, after a Twitter user pleaded for him to help the group, who have been underground inside the cave in Chiang Rai for a fortnight after floodwater blocked their escape route.
Mr Musk said SpaceX and another of his firms, The Boring Company, had “advance ground penetrating radar” that is “pretty good at digging holes”.
He also tweeted that a “1m diameter nylon tube” could be threaded through the cave network and inflated “like a bouncy castle”.
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That, he said, should “create an air tunnel underwater against [the] cave roof”.
His engineers needed to be on site in Chiang Rai province to appreciate how complex the evacuation was, he said.
James Yenbamroong, who founded satellite communications provider mu Space Corp, tweeted that the “SpaceX team reached out to us today to help connect to Thai govt”.
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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2018
He added: “For pumps, cave has narrowest 70cm cross section. For vertical drill, it’s about 1/2 mile down and tricky.”
Mr Musk’s team could help with location tracking, water pumping or battery power, the Thai government said.
Rescue teams, meanwhile, have thrashed through dense forest above the cave complex, looking for a place to start drilling a rescue shaft.
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“We want to find the way down – I believe we are close,” Thanes Weerasiri, president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, said.
His engineers are working with the army, exploring an area they believe to be just hundreds of metres from where the boys and their coach are trapped.
“Originally we were exploring it as a way to bring supplies to the children from the back end of the cave, but now it could become more,” he said.
Senior Thai army officer Chalongchai Chaiyakum said up to 200 people were exploring the hill to try to find a workable shaft.
One team travelled 300m down a shaft on Thursday, he said, before reaching a dead end.
Eighteen holes have been drilled from above, as crews attempt to cut through to the cave. They have managed to get airline down to the cave to allow the boys fresh oxygen as the air within the cave deteriorates.
Rescuers have also delivered letters written by the boys’ parents, providing some positive relief from home.