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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The rescue begins for trapped miners in Chile

On Aug. 5, the central shaft of the San Jose mine in Copiapó, Chile, collapsed, trapping 33 workers inside. After 18 days and numerous rescue attempts, contact has finally been established. President Sebastián Piñera read a note from the miners aloud, stating “all 33 of us are fine in the shelter” which sparked a celebration throughout the nation.The emergency shelter, a space the size of an average living room, lies 2,300 feet below the surface, according to The New York Times. It was stocked with two days’ worth of food.
According to ABC News, the workers have been surviving in temperatures of around 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity.

The miners divided their food so that every other day each man would eat his ration: two spoonfuls of tuna, a sip of milk, half a cracker, and a peach slice, according to El Mercurio. This rationing was administered so carefully that upon discovery more than two weeks later, there was still food left.

To connect the miners to the surface, three “umbilical cords” have been established, according to The New York Times. These six-inch-wide shafts are used to deliver supplies, establish communications, and provide fresh air.

Chilean Health Minister Jaime Mañalich declared the miners physical and psychological health to be “extremely good” considering they have been thrust into the “bowels of the earth,” according to Chilean news site El Espectador.

Both U.S. navy specialists and NASA have been working with the Chilean government to help determine the best methods of health care for people in confined spaces, according to Chilean newspaper La Tercera.

“Our thoughts are with the 33 trapped miners in Chile,” said NASA astronaut José Hernández on his Twitter account. “I hope technology from NASA can help them.”

Physical and psychological care plans are extremely vital for the miners, as the rescue is not a fast process.

For fear of harming group morale, the miners were not informed of the time frame for their removal for a week after discovery. Recently, however, Chilean officials decided that the miners must be told the truth. The removal is following a 90-day agenda.

“We plan to have them out before Christmas,” said Mañalich to ABC News.

The countdown for retrieval began Aug. 24.

“I think that we’ve been able to talk with them very frankly and they’ve accepted it and they’re calm,” Mañalich told the Guardian.

Regular contact with their families is an important part of keeping the miners situated and well. Relatives of the miners have gathered near the drill site, forming a group of tents christened Camp Hope.

While family members express their concern, they also demonstrate strength and determination.

“We are not going to abandon this camp until we go out with the last miner left,” said Maria Segovia, a miner’s wife, to the Associated Press.

The problems that caused the mine collapse have spurred the Chilean government to take action on mine safety. This particular mine had a history of disregarding safety regulations, and it was reopened in 2008 after an explosion that killed three people without meeting minimum safety standards. Chilean online news site Emol reported that Carolina Navaez, the wife of miner Raul Bustos, plans to sue.

Mining entrepreneur Leonardo Farkas presented 5 million pesos ($383,318) to each of the miner’s families. According to La Tercera, he wants these men to “have no economic concern after all the confusion that has happened.”

Chile has suffered much this year, still recovering from February’s earthquake, but people seem to be looking to the future.

“After a bad thing comes a good thing,” said sophomore and Chilean native Freddy Gomez.

The endurance of these miners and the passion of the nation supporting them confirms his statement.

“The whole country was really worried about [the miners],” said Gomez.

Gomez noted their ability to keep their sense of humor, after they requested both wine and soccer updates.

These miners will continue to be in the news for some time, as their rescue proceeds. Until that day the 33 men will remain half a mile below the earth’s surface, but prominent in the hearts and minds of the Chilean nation.

But as Chile has proven, the country can unite in celebration as well as in tragedy. According to the Associated Press, people all over Chile flooded the streets when the miners were located and discovered alive.

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