There was great news on Saturday, October 9th, when a T-130 drill, operated by U.S. contractor, Jeff Hart, of Denver, Colorado, along with other contractors, broke through to thirty-three trapped Chilean miners after 28 days of drilling. These miners have been trapped underground for more than two months, following a cave-in August 5, 2010. This sets the world record for length of time that workers have survived being underground. Rescuers are hopeful that the miners will begin their trip out of the mine by Tuesday, October 12, around midnight. The capsule that will carry the miners to safety has been named Phoenix I, after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes. The Phoenix I is a steel capsule, which will be lowered to pick up the miners, giving each man a twisting ride for approximately 2,041’, lasting around 20 minutes. Each round trip will be approximately one hour. The top part of the escape shaft is lined with steel sleeves for reinforcement.
The miners are in great spirits, arguing over who will be the last one to leave the mine! A Navy special forces paramedic and a mine expert will be lowered into the mine, one at a time, to evaluate the condition of the workers. They will oversee the upward journey, sending the most technically adept miners first, who would be able to help with the rescue if necessary. Those with health concerns will go next, with the emotionally stronger ones going last.
The miners have been given a diet donated by NASA, consisting of liquids, vitamins, and minerals to prepare for the trip. Among the many challenges of the rescue are the possibilities of becoming dizzy or panicked. Harnesses and oxygen masks will be placed on each miner, and the ones being lifted after sunrise will don safety sunglasses to protect their eyes from sunlight, which they have not seen for more than 60 days.
There will be a make-shift hospital where the miners will have health checks, and following a brief reunion with families, they will be airlifted to a hospital in nearby Copiaco, about a 15-minute flight. One can only imagine the jubilation from the families of the miners opon seeing their loved ones safely back on the earth, instead of inside it. There will also be approximately 750 journalists and Chilean officials waiting, as well. These miners will long be telling their stories of the amazing journey they have experienced. It will be interesting to hear the tales and see if the bonds of friendship and companionship will last. Families have endured extreme stress during this time; they and their husbands, fathers, sons, and other family members should be given time to recouperate.
It is to the credit of these brave and dedicated rescuers from Chile and various other countries that these men have survived this harrowing event. We are anxious, along with the rest of the world, to know that they are safely back home. This event should serve as a lesson that the world can be a much better place if we all work together.