11 July 2024

A Thai engineer involved in the drilling operation to find alternative entrances into Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai at the height of the “Wild Boars” rescue mission early month said yesterday despite all the uproar over SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s tweets, he was personally impressed with the focus his team of engineers had on attempts to save the young footballers’ lives.

Associate Prof Suthisak Soralump, a geotechnical engineer from Kasetsart University, said the American team showed every intention to be part of the rescue efforts. “They didn’t come with solutions. They didn’t try to tell you what to do. They listened and took notes,” said Suthisak, who also served as a liaison between Thai authorities and foreign experts.

He said that during their discussions, Musk’s team paid attention to details and wasted no time in coming up with ideas. “As soon as we finished talking, they would be on the phone talking to their colleagues back home about how what we discussed could be translated into action,” he said.

The Thai engineer, who supervised the operation to drill holes to find possible alternatives entrances into the cave, said the initial experiment of using nylon tubes to create an air tunnel underwater as reported by the media was a result of their discussion. Musk himself later visited the cave and delivered a miniature submarine to the Thai rescue team.

Suthisak, however, said he told Musk’s team that it was up to the Thai Navy SEALs, who spearheaded the rescue mission, to decide whether any of their equipment would be practical for their operation. In the end, Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn, chief of the rescue operation, politely rejected the use of the mini-submarine, saying it was not suitable for the mission.

“Even though the mini-sub would not be practical for this specific mission, I have to commend Musk and his team for leaving it behind so that it might be of use for some other purposes in the future,” the engineer said.

He said he was impressed with the seriousness that Musk’s team displayed in helping to find ways to rescue the young soccerites and their coach. “I can tell you that they were here with every intention to help,” he said.