Chilean Mine Rescue Underway

By | 2018-01-14T15:49:06+00:00 October 13th, 2010|6 Comments

Sixty-nine days after an explosion trapped 33 miners 2,000 feet underground in the San José copper and gold mine in Copiapó, Chile, rescuers have begun lifting miners to the surface. As of 6am this morning, eight miners have been pulled to safety: Florencio Avalos, Mario Sepulveda, Juan Illanes, Carlos Mamani, Jimmy Sanchez, Osman Araya, José Ojeda, and Claudio Yañez.

The Associated Press explains that a specially constructed “Phoenix” capsule is raised and lowered, bringing one miner at a time through a 28-inch diameter hole. Each miner is equipped with an oxygen tank, communications gear to be in constant contact with the surface, and a biometric belt that lets a medical team monitor their breathing and heart rates. Rescue worker Manuel Gonzalez was lowered into the mine at the start of the rescue operation, and has been preparing the men.

Family members who’ve been camped at the mine entrance during the ordeal — including many who waited there anxiously during the 17 days when the miners’ fate was unknown — will be eager to embrace their loved ones, but only 2-3 family members, along with President Sebastián Piñera, greets each miner initially. A triage team performs a medical check when the men emerge from the mine, and then a helicopter transports miners to the regional hospital in Copiapó for more thorough evaluation. Chilean newspaper La Tercera is tracking the number of miners at each stage of the rescue on its home page.

After more than two months in a dark, hot, and humid tunnel deep underground, the miners will face adjustments that must be overwhelming both physically and emotionally. They will be shielded from the media throng until they’re released from the hospital.

The miners’ strength and unity and the rescue workers’ skill and persistence have captivated a global audience, and will continue to do so.

About the Author:

Liz Borkowski
Liz Borkowski, MPH is the managing editor of the journal Women's Health Issues and a researcher at the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Her blog posts are her own and do not necessarily represent the views of her employer.

6 Comments

  1. fullerenedream October 13, 2010 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    I am relieved to hear these guys are finally getting out of there!

  2. Elizabeth Grossman October 13, 2010 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    At about 7 pm Pacific 10 pm Eastern time on October 13th, the New York Times reported that the last of the miners had been rescued and that all 33 are now safely above ground.

  3. Liz Borkowski October 13, 2010 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I got home just in time to watch him get to the surface! I’m not going to consider it done til the six rescuers who went down get back safely, though – two are up, four more on the way.

  4. Sienna October 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    I watched this story on CNN last night as the first three miners were brought to the surface. Anderson Cooper made the observation that there was an openness about the San Jose Mine rescue that was not apparent at other mine disasters, such as Sago; that this had played out in public with everything taking place if full view. That is so different from what we see with the current actions and investigations.

  5. Liz Borkowski October 13, 2010 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    I keep thinking of Sago and other US mine disasters, too, every time they show footage of the families during the initial days when they didn’t know what had happened to the miners. Sago has that extra wrenching detail of the initial report that 12 of the 13 had been rescued when in fact 12 had been killed.

    I hope someone does a detailed comparison between this mine collapse and a comparable US disaster – we could probably learn a few things from what the Chileans did well.

  6. Forensic Accountant October 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    The whole world is watching the rescue and everyone is cheering

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