Cave explorer Vern Unsworth said Musk's mini-submarine device was a "PR stunt."
Tesla CEO Elon Musk became involved in a bitter spat Sunday with one of the rescuers of a Thai soccer team from a cave, calling the diver a "pedo" on Twitter.
The billionaire was apparently responding to comments made by British cave explorer Vern Unsworth, who said that a mini-submarine Musk sent to aid the rescue mission was just "a PR stunt."
Unsworth said Musk's device had "absolutely no chance of working" because he had "no conception" of what the cave passage was like.
In a CNN interview, he said Musk had been asked to leave the cave and that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts."
Musk responded in a series of now-deleted tweets: "Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves. Only people in sight were the Thai navy/army guys, who were great.
"Water level was actually very low … you could literally have swum to Cave 5 with no gear, which is obv how the kids got in. If not true, then I challenge this dude to show final rescue video."
He then added: "You know what, don't bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it."
Many users urged Musk to withdraw the comment, but he doubled down — writing "bet ya a signed dollar it's true" before deleting.
Musk and his team of engineers at SpaceX and The Boring Co. designed and built a mini-submarine to help rescue the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach who became trapped in the cave June 23 when a flash flood blocked the entrance. They were finally brought to safety on Tuesday. A Thai Navy SEAL died during the operation.
Musk's device was fashioned out of a tube for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. He said the other cave divers and rescuers were "unsung heroes."
The boys and their coach were still recovering under quarantine in a hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand, Monday, where all were improving quickly, the country's top public health official said.
In May, Musk faced criticism for dismissing questions from analysts and reporters on a conference call as "bonehead" and "boring"and even proposed a Yelp-style ratings system for journalists.