Chilean Mine Rescue

IMAGE: Chilean miner Juan Illanes, 52, greets his wife

Todays date is the 13/10/10. The date of the incredible Chilean Mine Rescue. I have been watching with bated breath as they have successfully been bringing the 33 trapped miners one by one to the surface in the Fenix capsule, from nearly 700m below the surface of the Earth.

Nearly three weeks after a collapse inside the main access tunnel of a mine in Chile trapped 33 miners inside, all were alive, and emergency supplies were sent through a bore hole. They had been eating at levels whereby their nutritional values were just above starvation rates.

The men have to date, been trapped in the depths of darkness for 69 long days, and today, the shaft and the capsule (called the “pheonix”/fenix to celebrate the men’s rebirth) is complete and ready to lift the miners back up!

The TimesLive has made a timeline following how the miners will be rescued, which is:

The operation was due to start sometime between 8:00 pm (2300 GMT) and midnight Tuesday (0300 GMT Wednesday), Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said.

Here is the likely course of events he and other officials at the mine outlined to media:


The operation is to begin when a highly trained rescue worker is strapped into the cage that will be used to winch each of the miners to the surface, one by one. It will take 25-30 minutes for the rescuer to reach the tunnel 622 meters (2,041 feet) underground where the 33 miners are waiting.


The rescue worker will strap the first miner — identified by a government official as Florencio Avalos, 31, one of two brothers trapped in the mine and a shift supervisor — into the cage, ready to be pulled up. The cage, dubbed the “Phoenix” because of the rebirth it represents to the trapped men, will take 15-20 minutes to be brought to the surface.


Each time the cage with a miner is close to the surface, a siren sounding like an ambulance will be set off, along with a bright light. Both will last for a minute, to alert the waiting medical team to be ready. For the 2,000 international journalists covering the rescue, that will also be the signal of a successful individual rescue. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was at the mine to greet the first miners.


Doctors at the mouth of the rescue shaft will immediately rush forward to tend to the saved miner. Although all are said to be in good physical condition, there were concerns about the effects on them of spending more than two months underground. Up to three family members chosen by the miner himself will also be allowed to greet him at this point.


Chilean officials are intent on giving the miners time to recover without being subjected to the intense media coverage of the historic rescue. A shortlist of some of the 2,000 international journalists at the mine will be allowed to observe the operation from a distance of around 60 meters. The rest will have to report from the camp at the mine, some 200 meters away. A reinforced police deployment enforces the buffer zone and mans road checkpoints preventing non-accredited persons access to the mine.


After an initial check-up at the mine, each miner will be flown to the nearest hospital in the town of Copiapo for two days of comprehensive tests and observation. Two helicopter air ambulances are standing by, each able to carry four people sitting, or two people in stretchers.


A total of five rescuers are to be sent down to the miners, alternating with the first four miners pulled up. The rescue team sent underground includes military rescue specialists, medics and civilian mining experts, though the exact composition was not detailed. The five rescuers will be the last people to be winched up, once all 33 miners are on the surface.


With the cage’s round trips, it is expected to take around one hour to save each miner. Although technically that should mean 33 hours, officials have given themselves 48 hours in case they encounter any difficulties. That would mean a marathon operation lasting until late Thursday.


According to Chilean media reports, the 33 miners are hoping to turn their unprecedented ordeal into a lucrative opportunity. Deals for exclusive interviews, product endorsements, book contracts and movie rights are said to be expected. Psychologists fear, though, that several of the men may be unable to make the transition from humble miner to survivor celebrity.


As of right now at 10:07pm in South Africa, 5 of the 33 miners have been brought up, all wearing sunglasses to protect them from the harsh light to their sensitive eyes. They are bringing them out from the strongest to the most vulnerable. The trip in the capsule takes about 15 minutes to get up, but it takes approximately an hour to rescue each miner.  They are:

1) Florencio Avalos – hugged his wife and sobbing 7 year old son. He is the most experienced of all the miners, and one of the strongest. His younger brother Renan was number 25th to come out.

2) Mario Sepulveda – Came out very jovial, dug around in a packet and pulled out some miner copper ore and gave it to the president and some other laughing rescuers. Hugged his beautiful wife. If I am not mistaken, he gave an interview saying how God and the Devil fought, and Gos won, and not to make a complete media spectacle and say they are artists and journalists. He was the man who narrated the videos from the miners’ long ordeal beneath the surface.

3)  Juan Illanes – was also very jovial, laughed about the press he was receiving, hugged his wife, and said that the journey to the top was “a cruise”.

4) Carlos Mamani – hugged and kissed his wife with a force that knocked off her white hardhat. The only non-Chilean (sp?)

5) Jimmy Sanchez – 19 years old, has a 3 month old daughter that he has not seen for 2 months. He was very nervous about mining to begin with, and was terrified of the ascent as he is scared of the darkness, as well as the ghosts of dead miners. Hugged his father as soon as he reached the surface. He was considered the most psychologically fragile.

Right now they are fixing the wheel of the capsule. More info will be uploaded shortly.

6) Osman Araya – hugged his tearful wife. Told his family “I will fight to the end to be with you” He wore a shirt saying “Thank you, Lord”.

7) Jose Ojeda – the man who wrote the message “We are OK the 33 of us in the refuge.” Suffers from diabetes.

8) Claudio Yanez – The first man to be brought to the surface in daylight. Got engaged during this time.

9) Mario Gomez – one of the sicker people, he suffers from silicosis which affects mine workers. He is the eldest of all the 33. He is now set to marry his partner.

10) Alex Vega – was next! And we have 2 thumbs up! Just took this off The father of this heavy machinery mechanic gave a false name to officials so he could work in the rescue effort, according to reports.

11) Jorge Galleguillos – brought up to much applause! Suffers from hypertension and has been injured previously in 2 mine accidents.

12) Edison Pena Villarroel – a huge Elvis fan! The journey up went well! Was given an all-expense paid trip to Graceland!! He ran underground for about 5km I heard, keeping fit!

13) Carlos Barrios – had taken a nursing course and was known as “The Doctor”

14) Victor Zamora – unlucky. Doesn’t usually work underground, and had been called to do so to repair a machine.

15) Victor Segovia – was told “Welcome to Life” by Pinera. He wrote “When I wake I find myself in this eternal darkness that wears you down day by day.”

16) Daniel Herrera – has apparently complained about the psychologist advising the miners.

17) Omar Reygadas – knelt on the ground, holding tightly to his Bible.

18) Esteban Rojas – told his girlfriend with whom he has been in a relationship for 25 years that he will marry her – white dress and church wedding.

19) Pablo Rojas – the cousin of Victor Segovia and Esteban Rojas who had already been taken above ground.

20) Dario Segovia – the father of 3 children.

21) Yonni Barrios – had a wife and mistress. His wife refused to come to the rescue as their home life was displayed to the public, but the mistress was there and gave him a big hug! Apparently his sister said that “he says quite simply that he loves them both, that they are both important to him and he wants them to be friends with each other.” He was known as “Doctor House” because he had taken a short medical course and was asked to administer flu shots and other medicines to the rest of the group.

22) Samuel Avalos – has battled a previous drug addiction.

23) Carlos Bugueno – used to be a security guard, became a miner when another family member was previously also trapped underground. His tearful mother greeted him.

24) Jose Henriquez – was a preacher who helped them all get through this hellish experience.

25) Renan Avalos – pulled out more than 18 hours after his brother.

26) Claudio Acuna – celebrated his birthday in the mine.

27) Franklin Lobos – played for the Chilean national football team in the 1980s.

28) Richard Villarroel – met his heavily pregnant wife, and would be able to be there for the birth!

29) Juan Carlos Aguilar – has been working in the mine industry for over 30 years.

30) Raoul Bustos – his hometown was wiped out by a tsunami in February. Met by his wife.

31) Pedro Cortez – Came out a few hours after his cousin, Carlos Bugueno.

32) Ariel Ticona – whom his wife gave birth to before he was brought up to the surface. The baby’s name is Hope (Esperanza in Spanish), and he watched the birth on video.

33) Luis Alberto Urzua – he was the shift leader when the mine collapsed, and the man who organized the team and directed them during the 17 days when no one yet knew if they were still alive. Apparently “The president told him: “You are not the same, and the country is not the same after this. You were an inspiration. Go hug your wife and your daughter.” With Urzua by his side, he led the crowd in singing the national anthem.” Pinera also told him “I congratulate you because you did your duty, leaving last like a ship’s captain.”

ALL the men were brought up to the surface in 22 hours and 37 minutes.

NEWS: A Chilean Jewish mining executive has written $10,000 checks to each of the 33 miners.


7 responses to this post.

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  2. Chile, Bolivia presidents hail rescue…

    COPIAPO, Chile, Oct. 13 (UPI) — Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Bolivan President Evo Morales Wednesday praised the miners before rescuers hoisted the 15th man to safety.Victor Segovia, 48, gave Pinera a thumbs up and a hug …


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