View Full Version : 33 Miners Trapped in Chile

September 14th, 2010, 03:46 PM
This story has been unfolding since Aug 5th, when a section of a copper mine in the Atacama Desert collapsed, trapping the miners in a large chamber 2300 feet below solid rock.

The miners are relatively safe, but the immediate concern is their psychological well-being, since it may take months to rescue them. NASA experts in dealing with the isolation of space missions have been called in to offer assistance.

There are currently three plans to reach the miners:

Plan A: Drilling a larger diameter hole near the original narrow bore holes that initially reached the miners. It has bored to a depth of about 750-800 feet.

Plan B: The original bore holes (only a few inches in diameter) have been used to supply food and communication links to the miners. in this plan, a higher velocity drill is being used to widen one of the holes. It is faster, but hit a steel obstruction, possibly a shoring beam in a higher level, and the bit shattered. It has been removed with a 'spider' and drilling resumed.

Plan C: a gigantic oil drilling rig is being assembled on site, the fastest of the three methods.

The shaft will be 21 inches in diameter. A special capsule has been designed to lift each miner, one at a time, 2300 feet. It will take hours for each lift.

An artist's impression shows three views of the capsule being built to rescue the 33 trapped miners Photo: REUTERS

Some recent news articles:


September 15th, 2010, 08:51 AM
Kind of creepy... The "face" in the second illustration looks like a skull!!!!

And 3 hours per lift? OMG I hope these guys are not claustrophobic!

September 15th, 2010, 09:13 AM
I don't know if a miner can be claustrophobic.

September 15th, 2010, 11:04 AM
Wrap him in a cigar tube for 3 hours and we will see.

Even Plumbers can squeeze themselves into and out of tight spaces on a daily basis, but that does not inhimit any movement for that long.

Hell, even my MRI's didn't take that long....

September 15th, 2010, 11:45 AM
Not being claustrophobic doesn't mean you can endure any confining situation for a long period of time. I doubt anyone could work as a miner and be claustrophobic. If any of the 33 were, I think they would have gone over the edge a long time ago, and I don't think anyone with that condition would even get into that tube.

I have no fear of high places, but I'm a little uneasy in very confining spaces. I don't know if that's at the level of claustrophobia, but I'd have a lot of trouble with that contraption.

September 15th, 2010, 12:54 PM
I think I would only have a problem if it stopped moving for longer than a few seconds.....

It is easy enough to put yourself in a self-induced state of denial "I am not trapped, I am moving to safety", but when the basis of your statement becomes invalid, you stop moving, well.....

October 13th, 2010, 02:00 AM
they are finally being hoisted to freedom!


October 13th, 2010, 08:04 AM
One interesting tidbit (google to get the names). One of the men was greeted on his rescue by his wife, child.....and Mistress.

She said she loved him and did not care. She wanted to be there when he came out.

I wonder if he really REALLY wanted to be rescued......

October 14th, 2010, 06:53 AM
^ His wife is happy for him, apparently :).

Interesting graphic (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/10/12/world/20101013-chile.html?ref=americas) of how the rescue was done.

Freed Miners in Chile Tell of Ordeals and Plot New Lives


COPIAPÓ, Chile — In the days before he was rescued, Mario Gómez had reached a breaking point.

Though he was the oldest and possibly the most experienced of the 33 miners trapped nearly a half mile underground, he began to “feel strong explosions” in the shafts surrounding him, his sister said, and started panicking that another cave-in like the one that had hemmed them in two months earlier was imminent.

“He said, ‘They needed to get us out right away,’ ” his sister, Eva Gómez, 61, recounted him as saying after his rescue.

“ ‘They were taking too long,’ ” he told her.

When he finally surfaced on Wednesday, he dropped to the ground in prayer. His wife, who had been saying for weeks that she wanted Mr. Gómez to retire, reached down and lifted him up from his knees before he was hospitalized with pneumonia.

As the miners were rescued in a pageant that moved their worldwide audience — watching on television, computers, even cellphones — to tears and laughter, glimpses of their personalities, their struggles to maintain their spirits during their subterranean ordeal and even the life that awaited them back on the surface began to emerge as well.

Victor Segovia, 48, who had served as one of the group’s chroniclers by keeping a diary of their travails underground, stepped out of the rescue hole as a potential author: the government said he was writing a book.

Carlos Mamani, 24, the sole Bolivian in the group, received a personal visit from his country’s president, Evo Morales, who offered him a new career in Bolivia and seemed eager to take him back right away. (Late Wednesday, Chile’s health minister said that for the time being Mr. Mamani had turned Mr. Morales down.)

Esteban Rojas, 44, said he would give his wife of 25 years the church wedding she always deserved, while Yonny Barrios, 50, faced a slightly more complicated future. The woman he embraced upon exiting the rescue capsule turned out to be his mistress, not his wife.

“He has another companion,” Marta Salinas, his wife of 28 years, told reporters, adding that she might wait for him at home. “I’m happy for him, and if he remakes his life, good for him.”

And Mario Sepúlveda, 39, instantly became a media sensation, leading cheers among the rescue workers, handing out rocks to government officials and giving an ebullient interview to Chilean television.

“Please don’t treat us as stars,” Mr. Sepúlveda said on Wednesday, wearing a green jumpsuit and dark sunglasses, in comments that many here absorbed with a warm smile. “I want to be treated as Mario Sepúlveda and I want to continue working. That’s all I want.”

After night fell on the mine on Wednesday, the last of the miners was pulled to safety at 9:55 p.m. local time, stepping into the embrace of family members and an electrified nation.

With President Sebastián Piñera presiding over each rescue as a kind of master of ceremonies, the months of waiting boiled over every time the rescue capsule popped out of the ground.

When Víctor Zamora, 34, emerged and held his pregnant wife, Jessica, in an extended embrace after 69 days of dark separation, the moment — despite the penetrating glare of the sun and the world’s attention — was theirs alone.

Several miners, like Mr. Gómez, 63, who had lost parts of three fingers in a mining accident, were veterans. But others were not even supposed to be in the mine on Aug. 5, the day of the cave-in.

Mr. Rojas happened to be working that day only because he took the place of a co-worker who had to go to a funeral. He had planned on resigning Sept. 18, but ended up trapped in the mine far longer than that with three cousins: Pablo Rojas, Darío Segovia and Ariel Ticona.

Raúl Bustos, 40, a mechanic, had managed to escape one disaster — the February earthquake — only to find himself in another.

He had worked at a shipyard, but left his hometown, Talcahuano in southern Chile, after the coast was devastated. An uncle told him there was a job here in the desert, so Mr. Bustos decided to move. He had been working at the mine for just two months before being caught in the cave-in.

On top of that, he had already finished his shift on the day of the accident, but had stayed in the mine to finish repairing a vehicle.

“This was his destiny,” said Carlos Narváez, a relative.

Jimmy Sánchez, 19, the youngest miner and an avid soccer fan, was expecting to work in the mine only until September. He took the job after his girlfriend had his child, so he could earn more money to support them, said his mother, Norma Lagues.

Seeing her son emerging from the Phoenix 2 capsule early Wednesday was like watching him “being born again,” Ms. Lagues said.

She said he was “totally changed, a very different person, much more mature” than before the mine collapse.

“I am not going to let him work in a mine ever again, and he told me he doesn’t want to, either,” Ms. Lagues said. “They knew the mine was dangerous and reported it. He would go to work afraid.”

The future for Mr. Gómez, who has worked more than 30 years in mines, remained more uncertain. His wife, Lilian Ramírez, wants him to stop mining, but his older brother Reinaldo said he expected him to continue mining, a profession he grew to love.

Ms. Gómez, his sister, said she was stunned by how much weight he had lost, saying he looked “extremely thin.” The siblings spoke of the day when the mine collapsed, how Mr. Gómez and the others had all tried to climb stairs in the mine to get as high as they could, and of the “desperate” days the miners lived without eating before they were discovered.

“They weren’t sure that someone would look for them,” Mr. Gómez tearfully recalled to her, causing her to break down.

Mr. Mamani’s siblings traveled here 36 hours on a bus from Cochabamba, in central Bolivia, to see him on Wednesday.

“He told me, ‘Sister, I thought I’d been forgotten,’ ” said his sister, Parciana Mamani, 43, a street vendor who is the eldest of the 10 children of the Mamani family.

“I told him we never forgot him, never,” she said, surrounded by two brothers and a sister. “I just held his hand for a while, and told him we came here to be with him.”


October 14th, 2010, 08:08 AM
So happy she was not there to greet him?