More than two weeks passed since a Chilean mine shaft collapsed, trapping 33 workers—and Chilean officials are saying it could take up to four months before they’re rescued.
Food and supplies are being sent through a small tube to the miners. Also, with a video camera sent through the same tube — miners shot a 45 minute tape, showing what life is like 700 meters underground.
Sky News has the footage.
“One by one, they send personal messages to their loved ones. (FLASH) It’s hard to believe, but in spite of the hellish prospect of living like this ‘til Christmas, the men tell the camera they are not down hearted. ‘We know its going to be a while, says this man.”
Rescuers sent down questionnaires to record the conditions of all the workers—as well as telephone lines and microphones so they can communicate with their families.
CNN reports some miners are stepping up themselves to leadership positions: “There are three guys fulfilling that role right now. One guy was the shift leader. He was the boss of the miners anyway. There’s another man down there who has some nursing experience. So he’s been chosen to carry out written, psychological evaluations of all the miners. He is also, we’re told, carrying out basic medical tests on the miners. And there’s a third man, Mario Gomez, a 63-year-old, the most veteran miner down there—he’s been a miner since he was 12. And he’s emerged as kind of the natural spiritual leader of these men.
And a writer for Time examines the mental health implications of being trapped in a 500 square feet space without light for months: “Even when rescue does occur, the men could be dealing with the emotional blowback of their experiences for a long time … Still, if there’s one good thing about PTSD, it’s the post- part of it. Once the men see the sun again, the immediate crisis will be over and their healing can at last begin.”
A Bloomberg reporter notes the mining company — San Esteban Primera – could have done more to prevent a collapse like this one: “One of the criticisms of the mining minister yesterday was this mine site really didn’t have an alternative exit for these workers. So, that’s why they’re contemplating this very unusual escape of just booring straight through the ground and literally lifting them out.
And a blogger for the Economist writes its not just the company at fault – higher officials need to do more to ensure the safety of miners, he says: “The staffing and budgets of government enforcement agencies have failed to keep pace with the rapid expansion of the mining industry over the past 20 years. Such an investment could have saved the present government a million-dollar rescue operation and the trapped miners some long, dark weeks.”
We’ll leave you with more footage from the collapsed mineshaft from ITN—with workers singing the national anthem of Chile.
Writers: Maurico Bush and Steven Hsiek.
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