San Francisco: SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk was slammed on social media on Sunday for attacking a British diver who helped rescue the boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, baselessly calling him a "pedo" on Twitter.
Vern Unsworth, the British cave explorer, had said in an interview that Musk`s attempt to help the rescue effort with a "mini-sub" was a "PR stunt".
Reacting to Unsworth, Musk tweeted on Sunday: "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it".
Twelve boys and their football coach were rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex last week by an international team after a week-long intense drama.
Musk offered to assist the rescue mission by providing a submarine but the request was turned down on the ground that it would be unworkable. He later lashed out saying that he would make a video proving that his "mini-sub" would have been successful, the Guardian reported.
Musk`s controversial tweet was later deleted.
Earlier, Unsworth took on Musk in a widely-shared interview, saying the "mini-sub" "just had absolutely no chance of working".
"He had no conception of what the cave passage was like. The submarine, I believe, was about 5-feet 6-inch long, rigid, so it wouldn`t have gone round corners or round any obstacles," Unsworth was quoted as saying.
When a Twitter user pointed out that Musk was "calling the guy who found the children a pedo", the billionaire responded: "Bet ya a signed dollar it`s true."
Some Twitter users lashed out at Musk, saying how "dangerous" and irresponsible it was to make such a serious allegation and to broadcast a potentially libelous insult to his over 22 million followers.
Musk has repeatedly come under fire for his behaviour on Twitter and for Tesla`s PR strategy, under which it aggressively attacks critics and journalists.