Trapped for almost two weeks since June 23 in Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, a team of soccer boys have made international headlines. At 2 AM on 6 July 2018, former Thai Navy Seal Saman Kunan died while delivering oxygen to the trapped victims. International divers have been involved in the rescue efforts, hailing from Belgium and the UK.
This crisis looms at the cusp of the impending monsoon season which threatens additional flooding. The terrain is treacherous, proven by the unfortunate death during the operation. The slippery limestone has also made it nigh on impossible for rescuers to climb the mountain atop the cave.
Under such circumstances, the Chiang Rai governor has reportedly contacted Elon Musk’s team to assist, probably through James Yenbamroong, a Thai engineer that had helped rope Elon Musk in on Twitter.
chiang rai governor: “i am the one who invited @SpaceX because my friend works there.”
— Jacob Goldberg (@yayqe) July 6, 2018
In true Elon Musk fashion, he took to the cause, quickly assembling a team consisting of SpaceX and Boring Company engineers to aid in the operations at Tham Luang.
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
With engineers well en route to Thailand, the genius inventor and entrepreneur has been tweeting possible solutions, rapid fire. He had acknowledged that the Thai authorities probably have the situation “under control” when asked by a Twitter user for his involvement on July 3. Since then, he has humbly acknowledged that the team needs to be “there in person” in order to appreciate “complexities” in the situation.
The team of Boring Company and SpaceX engineers bring with them expertise in several areas. Musk has mentioned their expertise in drilling technology and in operating ground penetrating radar to assist in rescue efforts.
Boring Co has advanced ground penetrating radar & is pretty good at digging holes. 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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 5, 2018
The exchange ended in a heartwarming show of collaboration as they finalised equipment specifications to ensure compatibility of the generator trucks on the ground and Musk’s pumping equipment.
While the tech magnate’s involvement is slightly bizarre, a wide array of technological adaptations have been used to aid rescue efforts. Drones, pumps and radios have been adapted in DIY fashion in ways that have been described as “ingenious”.
Drones equipped with 30x zoom optics and thermal imaging, usually used in commercial drilling operations, have been repurposed in this crisis. Other waterborne drones have helped make contact with the football team, though repurposed aged home radios have played an essential role in locating the trapped victims.