Chilean Miners Rescued at Last

Posted on October 31, 2010 by

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On August 5th, 2010, thirty-three Chilean miners were caught in the San José Mine after a collapse in the main ramp occurred. All thirty-three of the miners were caught a half of a mile underground. One of the thirty-three miners requested to leave three hours before it collapsed, but the others ignored his request and kept working.

The miners were trapped twenty-three hundred feet underground, and on the first day no one was able to make contact with them. They were planning on being rescued by August 7th, but setbacks involving the initial tunnel collapse forced the retrieval to be postponed. Seventeen days later, on August 23rd, the miners were sent food and water along with two devices that were capable of relaying communication. This was the first time friends, family, rescuers, or anyone else had heard from them.

On August 27th, the miners were sent cameras, and they recorded personal videos to their families. On August 29th, each of the trapped miners was given a chance to talk to his family for twenty seconds.

Throughout the month of September, rescuers suggested three potential plans to retrieve the miners. On October 7th, one of the plans was put into action, and fifty-three meters were excavated in twelve hours, leaving just eighty-nine meters of rock between the miners and the outside world.

On October 9th, sirens went off in Copiapo, Chile, indicating that the breakthrough had occurred and rescuers had pierced the roof of the underground mine. Then the day everyone had been awaiting: on October 13th at 12:11 a.m., the first miner was rescued. Throughout the day, more and more were rescued when twenty-two and a half hours later the last one was retrieved.

If the miners were trapped so far down into the ground, how did rescuers excavate them?

A custom-built rescue capsule was constructed to bring the miners to safety. The capsule had wheels on each side of it to roll down the sides of the tunnel that was drilled, and a metal casing was added to reduce friction. The capsule was also complete with a harness to keep the occupant upright, even if he were to pass out. Lastly, it had a cage that had communications equipment and an oxygen supply.

It was truly a miracle that all thirty-three miners came out alive and were reunited with their families.

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