Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chile Mine: So Far, So Good: 18/33 Up and Healthy

"Chilean Miners Emerge in Problem-Free Rescue"
AP, via FOXNews (October 13, 2010)

"The miners who spent 69 agonizing days deep under the Chilean earth were hoisted one by one to freedom Wednesday, their rescue moving with remarkable speed while their countrymen erupted in cheers and the world watched transfixed.

"Beginning at midnight and sometimes as quickly as once every 40 minutes, the men climbed into a slender cage nearly a half-mile underground and made a smooth ascent into fresh air. By early afternoon, more than half the men -- 18 of 33 -- had been rescued.

"In a meticulously planned operation, they were monitored by video on the way up for any sign of panic. They had oxygen masks, dark glasses to protect their eyes from unfamiliar daylight and sweaters for the jarring climate change, subterranean swelter to the chillier air above...."

If you were watching video coverage of the rescue, you already know that the miners didn't have beards when then came up. They'd gotten razors and shaving cream some number of days earlier.

That's how they looked. How did they feel? Back to the article.

"...They emerged looking healthier than many had expected and even clean-shaven, and at least one, Mario Sepulveda, the second to taste freedom, bounded out and thrust a fist upward like a prizefighter.

" 'I think I had extraordinary luck. I was with God and with the devil. And I reached out for God,' he said as he awaited the air force helicopter ride to a nearby hospital where all the miners were to spend 48 hours under medical observation...."

"...The anxiety that had accompanied the careful final days of preparation broke at 12:11 a.m., with the first rescue -- Florencio Avalos, who emerged from the missile-like chamber and smiled broadly after his half-mile journey. He hugged his sobbing 7-year-old son and wife and then President Sebastian Pinera, who has been deeply involved in an effort that had become a matter of national pride.

"Avalos was followed an hour later by the most ebullient of the group, Sepulveda, whose shouts were heard even before the capsule peeked above the surface. He hugged his wife and handed out souvenir rocks from the mine to laughing rescuers...."

"...The ninth, Mario Gomez, who at 63 is the oldest miner, dropped to his knees after he emerged, bowed his head in prayer and clutched the Chilean flag. His wife, Liliane Ramirez, pulled him up from the ground and embraced him...."

There's more in the article, including some details of the rescue. Which is going faster than expected: in part because the container they're using doesn't rotate as much as they expected it to, while traveling through the shaft.

And there are more miners to extract from that half-mile-deep (almost) place. At the rate they're going, rescuers expect to get all 33 up by sunrise, Thursday.

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