Elon Musk mocked for trying to be part of Thai cave rescue

Elon Musk's attempts to get involved in the Thai cave rescue operation have been met with derision on social media.

Before any of the 13 people trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex had been rescued, the Tesla CEO tweeted that he had designed a mini-submarine capable of transporting a child to safety.

He said he was testing the prototype with a team of engineers, and posted several videos showing the submarine being submerged in a pool to simulate how it would fit through the cave system's narrow twisting passages.

Musk's offer of help was politely rejected by former provincial governor Narongsak Osatanakorn, who said the concept was not practical for the operation. Musk didn't take kindly to being dismissed, suggesting that the governor (who was a key co-ordinator of the mission) didn't know what he was talking about.

He also posted a screenshot of his own emails with Richard Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team, as proof that his ideas were being taken seriously by officials.

His prickly response was lampooned on Twitter, with one calling his overreaction "absolutely buck wild".

While many people praised Musk's efforts to help rescue the trapped team, others said he was interfering in another country's business out of narcissism.

"Serious question: is there really no backlash to @ElonMusk cravenly seizing an ongoing disaster in Thailand that has already killed one rescuer for his continuing self-promotion?" asked one Twitter user.

"Can Elon Musk just invent a machine that gives him the attention he needs so we don't all have to do it anymore," wrote another.

"Elon Musk wants to be Tony Stark so bad after all his years of being a dweeb," wrote another, referring to the billionaire alter ego of Marvel superhero Iron Man.

He was also criticised for using the disaster as a platform to promote his own gadgets. Musk is the founder of SpaceX and Boring Company, both of which worked on the submarine.

"The fact that Elon Musk's first instinct was to build a submarine instead of paying the wages and damages of the volunteers already successfully rescuing those kids is an example of how good innovation requires listening to users," wrote one Twitter user.

"This is a man for whom money is such a nonissue that it didn't even occur to him that it might be useful to his users."

"If you heard about Elon Musk 'helping' the Boars in Thailand but didn't hear about Suratin Chaichompoo, who drilled water for exactly no reward, or the farmers who allowed their rice to be flooded so the kids could get out, that's exactly Musk's angle and goal here," said one user.

"Musk did exactly NOTHING to help, but he had the money and power to take off from work and all responsibilities to travel to Thailand with a worthless "solution" and without consulting with the rescue team. For the west, white mediocrity trumps the efforts of the colonised."

Many people pointed out that due to the dimensions of the cave, there was no way Musk's submarine could have fit anyway.

Musk became the butt of hundreds of jokes and memes poking fun at his attempts to help. Many suggested he was trying to take credit despite not actually assisting in the rescue.

Thousands also defended Musk, with many Thai people calling him inspirational and generous.