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CEO Elon Musk is under fire Monday after having called one of the British divers who helped rescue the Thai soccer team a "pedo guy".

The tumble follows the tech billionaire's escalating spat with British caver Vernon Unsworth, who has said that he wouldn't rule out legal action after the tech billionaire publicly accused him of being a pedophile, an unsubstantiated claim that has baffled those who know the caver.

Generally confused, some Twitter followers guessed that Musk was dubiously linking Unsworth (who has been mapping the Tham Luang caves for a decade) with Thailand's epidemic of child-sex tourism. When asked if he'd take legal action against Musk, Unsworth said he's considering the possibility.

"Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it", he added, completely out of the blue.

The caver said he would make a decision when he flies back to the United Kingdom this week, but added that the episode with Musk "ain't finished". Musk's submarine was never used.

But while Musk also defended his donation by mentioning that he has donated almost $6 million to the Sierra Club, an environmentalist group fighting climate change, he is also helping keep fringe extremists in the Republican Party in power.

Representatives for Musk did not respond to requests for comment about the incident.

Unsworth told journalists at the cave site, where a cleanup operation is under way, the remarks about him were an attack on the entire rescue crew.

However, Tesla customers tend to be people with high levels of disposable income who are also concerned about climate change and pollution.

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Musk has come under increased pressure in recent months as frustrations mount over his electric auto company's production and cash burn troubles. "The submarine, I believe, was about 5 foot 6 long, rigid so it wouldn't have gone round corners or round any obstacles".

The investors went on to say that Musk's behavior was "fueling an unhelpful perception" of his leadership - calling it "thin-skinned and short-tempered".

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said Unsworth could potentially bring a legal case arguing that Musk's attack was libel - a false and written statement that defamed or damaged his reputation.

Musk called the diver a "pedo" on Sunday in a tweet he later deleted.

"Bet ya a signed dollar it's true", Musk said in since-deleted tweets after being challenged on the claim.

"I have a lot of support from people around the world astonished by his unfounded comments", he said.

"He had no conception of what the cave massage was like", said Unsworth, whose intimate knowledge of the cave was reportedly pivotal to the successful rescue effort.

To avoid long-term damage, "the first thing Musk needs to do is issue a huge apology", Mr Moorhead said.

James Anderson, one of the largest shareholders in Tesla, told the Guardian that he planned to convey his concerns to the company.