The business magnate called Vern Unsworth “pedo guy” – US spelling for ‘paedophile’ – after the diver, who lives in Chiang Rai in Thailand, criticised Musk’s offer to help in the rescue as a “PR stunt”.
Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, had claimed his prototype submarine could be used to rescue the 12 young Thai football players and their coach trapped in the Tham Luang caverns.
But after the boys were rescued Mr Unsworth, 63, told CNN “he can stick his submarine where it hurts” – claiming it had “absolutely no chance of working”.
In a Twitter tirade today, Musk hit back, raging: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
Mr Musk wrote: “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. Thai navy seals escorted us in — total opposite of wanting us to leave.
“Water level was actually very low & still (not flowing) — 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.”
The word ‘sus’ is commonly used in American as abbreviation for ‘suspicious’.
He went on: “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.”
There is absolutely nothing to suggest Mr Unsworth, who played a vital role in the rescue and has been hailed as a hero, is a paedophile.
Criticising Mr Musk yesterday, he said: “It just had absolutely no chance of working. They had no conception of what the cave passage was like.
“The submarine, I believe was about 5ft 6 long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or any obstacles.
“It wouldn’t have made the first 50 metres into the cave from the dive start point. Just a PR stunt.”
The submarine named ‘Wild Boar’ after the football team was built while the rescue operation got underway from rocket parts.
Mr Musk, who did go into the cave where the boys were trapped, claimed his device could fit through small gaps and was light enough to be carried by two divers.
However the leader of the operation said the machine was “not practical”.