When the disaster occurred, no one knew what to expect. The San Jose mine in Chile experienced a horrific cave-in at approximately 985 feet underground. 33 miners were inside at the time, and no one knew if they had even survived. Word about the collapse spread quickly, and the next morning Chilean President Sebastian Pinera vowed to do “everything humanly possible” to save the men we hoped were still alive.
By August 12, hope was fading, but not lost. Mining Minister Laurence Goldborne announced that it was unlikely any of the miners would be found alive. Rescue workers continued to drill holes deep into the ground, eager to discover some encouraging news.
That news arrived on Sunday, August 22. One of the drills broke through the shelter area where the miners were waiting. They managed to attach a note to the drill probe. Workers were surprised and overjoyed to learn that all 33 men were alive, and doing well. After 17 days with no communication, this felt like nothing short of a miracle.
As rescue efforts continued, workers were able to establish lines of communication with the trapped miners. The world watched in anticipation at the first scenes of the brave men waving and smiling. These men were eager to be rescued, but they were about to receive some distressing news. That rescue might not happen for several months.
The world responded. People from various countries joined the inexhaustible Chilean workers to help devise a plan. While they waited, the miners were able to send and receive letters, and later enjoy video conferences with family members. Work efforts moved quickly, but there were great concerns over how well the men would hold up underground.
Crews began drilling a 66-centimeter shaft through solid rock, and by October 9 it reached the miners. A narrow capsule was built to travel up and down the shaft, bringing the men to safety one at a time. Workers ran multiple tests; determined to work out any possible problems before the first man embarked on this dangerous journey.
People Helping People
After hours of diligent testing, the capsule was deemed ready. An emergency worker stepped inside, and descended nearly half a mile underground. He was met with cheers, hugs and tears of joy. Minutes later, miner Florencio Avalos entered the capsule. The world held its breath as the first man’s ascent began.
Avalos arrived safely. He hugged his family and the workers who gave their all to help him. Soon after he was brought into an on-site medical facility, the capsule was sent back down to retrieve the second man. As of this writing, 21 men have been brought to safety. Their arrivals are met with cheers and unbridled joy. So far rescue efforts have gone smoothly, and we eagerly anticipate safe returns for the other 12 men.
Rescue workers have tirelessly struggled to bring these men home. At PeopleFinders, we salute their immense efforts. Although the miners have a long road ahead of them, they will always know that people cared and gave their all to help them. Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who was involved in this heroic effort.
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