1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

Elon Musk sends engineers to help rescue Thailand soccer team trapped in flooded cave...

By Polycount · 16 replies
Jul 6, 2018
Post New Reply
  1. If you haven't been keeping an eye on non-tech news lately, you could be forgiven for not being up-to-speed on a recent dilemma in Thailand.

    For the unaware, a boys' soccer team was recently found trapped deep in a Thai cave system. The team, along with its coach, was going on a field trip when they decided to explore a nearby cave.

    Unfortunately, nearby waters rose and flooded the cave, forcing the team to hide in a large pocket of air. They were stranded there for over a week before two divers found them.

    The rescue effort has proven to be much more complicated than Thai authorities first anticipated. Though they've pumped as much water from the area as possible, it's still too dangerous for the government to extract the team safely. Some of the trapped boys don't know how to swim, much less scuba dive.

    ...rainfall could result in additional cave flooding, making the prospect of rescue even more dangerous.

    To make matters worse, rainfall could result in additional cave flooding, making the prospect of rescue even more dangerous. Indeed, according to CNN, one navy diver who was helping authorities with the rescue tragically passed away when he ran out of air underwater.

    With this danger in mind, Thailand officials have prepared several months of supplies in case the rescue team is forced to wait for water levels to drop.

    As the situation goes from bad to deadly, Elon Musk has decided to step in to assist. In a tweet published this morning, the tech CEO said he sent SpaceX and Boring Company engineers to Thailand to see if they could be of use during the rescue operation.

    Musk believes a Tesla Powerpack could help rescuers pump water out of the cave at a much faster rate. He also discussed the possibility of using a nylon tube to pump breathable oxygen into the cave.

    Regardless of whether or not Musk and his team will be able to help, it's nice to see wealthy tech entrepreneurs putting their resources to good use.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,424   +591

    Hope they get them out safely.
    Reehahs and dms96960 like this.
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,456   +2,138

    With all the rushing streams in the area perhaps they could slap together a small hydro power plant or something that would pull oxygen out of the cave water. Of course what I'd really love to see is Musk bring in a tunneling machine that would make the Underminer jealous.
  4. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,016   +1,412

    Any help is good help - good on Musk.

    But I've been wondering what psycros referred to - drilling.

    Mining technology is crazy fast and efficient now. I'm wondering why they can't just tunnel down to them using that technology?
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,363   +3,594

    He has to sell quite a few more flamethrowers before that tech will be mature enough.

    I wonder how big the Tesla logo on those batteries will be.

    How the news works around my way is, you do the good deed first, then you get interviewed, and then you wind up in a clip on the 11 o'clock news.

    If you blow your trumpet about how you're gonna help before you actually accomplish anything, well that's just self advertisement.
  6. kapital98

    kapital98 TS Maniac Posts: 313   +243


    I was reading more into it. It seems the Thai government lacks the appropriate maps, geographical information, and roads to attempt a drilling operation. This is why it hasn't been attempted. It's also why Musk's assistance may be so helpful.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
    Evernessince, dms96960 and TomSEA like this.
  7. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 843   +343

    I don't know the company but one of the major oil companies is sending a survey team with the equipment needed to survey the area they can/ want to drill into. If they can get a decent size hole down to them they can get them a lot more creature comforts without having to risk others lives while the water levels are so high.
  8. commanderasus

    commanderasus TS Addict Posts: 225   +98

    This is a not an easy task. It takes professional divers 4 to 5 hours just to reach the cave where the boys are. So now imagine trying to bring one of those boys out of this system, the cave tunnels are very narrow and in places you have to remove your tank and then you can go ahead. The boys can not swim, they are severely dehydrated as they were only drinking water they caught that was falling from the roof. They can barely walk never mind swim. It is rainy season and this cave system has not been mapped and this is what Elon Musk may send over is this type of equipment. You can only assist in this operation if your invited by the military who is in charge of this operation. One Thai Navy seal has died and this tells you just how perilous this is.
    Reehahs, dms96960 and ForgottenLegion like this.
  9. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 339   +149

    Good luck, hope the awesome brains behind spacex and boring company can step in and use some of that technology to get those boys out
  10. Vulcanproject

    Vulcanproject TS Evangelist Posts: 566   +741

    Anything that is tunnelled remotely near human populations has a full geological survey carried out, lots of prep and planning. Logistics of getting the equipment and people in place. Typically takes months before any machine starts digging. You can't just turn up and start drilling large holes because you have no idea of the stability of the formations they are near or the problems you may encounter.

    I would say if they do think about tunnelling and do a speedy survey it'll still be weeks before they make any man sized hole close to where the boys are located. You would go with a small borehole that you could stash provisions down and oxygen, then think about something bigger later. The best example might be the famous Chilean mining rescue in 2010. They were down there 69 days.

    While they try and train these boys to dive I am sure all other options are being considered such as a potential bore.
    Reehahs likes this.
  11. Igrecman

    Igrecman TS Maniac Posts: 245   +144

    International Rescue going there in SuperMarionation aboard Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 2, and of course the awesome Thunderbird 4 submarine will be the most useful.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
  12. funglebuddy

    funglebuddy TS Enthusiast Posts: 56   +15

    good ol musky get home save kids
  13. jason lee

    jason lee TS Rookie

    My question, how the **** did those kids end up 2.5miles deep in that cave ??
  14. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,399   +323

    From what I understand, they were going on some sort of team building exercise. They were probably closer to the entrance at first, but as the waters rose rapidly (Not enough time to get out), they probably had to go deeper into the cave to find a safe, dry patch to sit on. Just a guess, details are strangely vague.
  15. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,756   +3,180

    I am surprised that they are not using ReBreathers for those kids. The newest "sport" generation will yield up to 3 hours of continued supply that can be turned on and off, as needed. While the kids are not divers, these units can be set up for automatic adjustment so they simply need to be towed to safty. Obviously not quite THAT easy, but there are several models that are smaller profile than normal tanks and are used primarily for cave diving.

    Musk sending engineers? Talk about a vain attempt to gather some positive press .... where was he the day after their emergency was discovered? Oh wait, he's probably on the same time line as the Model 3 ...... LOL
  16. Sausagemeat

    Sausagemeat TS Maniac Posts: 385   +178

    As a diving instructor who has just returned from Thailand, rebreathers are really not an option due to the kids being required to remove their units to squeeze through holes. This would involve shutting off the loop, removing the rebreather and the slowly breathing out a small stream of bubbles for the duration they are not connected, pushing the rebreather through then following it and then donning it again, and then purging the loop of water before breathing from it again. If the loop floods at any point you would get something called a “caustic cocktail” that could be lethal to the kids, this removal and replace of the loop is far too tricky and very risky for a 12 year old boy to be required to perform safely in this environment . On top of this there isn’t really any way of remotely operating rebreathers in this sort of environment and constant monitoring of gauges is required, something that is practically unfeasible in water this murky. I believe the rescuers, some of which are personal friends of mine are using full face masks connected to tanks that can be removed from the diver whilst remaining connected to the child’s face and the child able to continue breathing and receiving verbal instruction and assurance from the rescue team. I’m certain that’s how they got the first 4 kids out anyway. Diving in this cave is not for the faint hearted, it has claimed the life of one Thai navy seal already and Thai Navy seals are pretty tough divers. Although I should point out that the difference in training between a Thai navy seal and the foreign cave specialists brought in is vast, I don’t expect any of those guys to perish in this operation.

    As for musk, well it’s likely a publicity excersize but we really shouldn’t criticise these things. He’s offering help to in a very difficult situation.

    The one thing however that I’ve noticed is that just last week in Thailand there was a storm that sunk a few ferry’s and boats off Phuket killing 40 odd people. Yet there doesn’t seem to be much press coverage about that by comparison.
    wiyosaya, cdxpwj and Reehahs like this.
  17. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,323   +1,743

    Well now that it is over and everyone has been rescued without the Darling of the Tech World's help:

    According to my understanding, it was not Musk's idea to help. Apparently, some third-party individual, not the Thai government or anyone directly involved in the rescue or family of those trapped in the cave, made a twitter comment to Musk asking whether he would help. It was then that Musk chimed in and offered help. Sounds about right wouldn't you say, @captaincranky ? Fits the narrative well that Musk has never had an original idea.

    Also, according to news reports, Musk finished a kid-sized submarine that the Thai government praised; however, they said that for the rescue, it would not have worked. In other words, thanks but no thanks, Mr. Musk. It was my understanding that there were barely passable sections of the passageway, and my guess is that the sub probably would not have made it through those sections. While the sub tech may be impressive, it sounds like Musk and/or his engineers did not study the problem and thus their "solution" was inappropriate, and in the respect that it would not have helped, it might as well be termed a failure. To me, studying the problem is essential to engineering a solution that works. There's a quote from the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who that fits - "Answers are easy. It's asking the right questions which is hard."

    In the meantime, as you suggest, Musk tooting his own horn has once again generated a lot of publicity for him and his companies even though he did nothing helpful. What's that saying? The road to hell is paved with good intent?
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
    Boilerhog146 likes this.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...