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By Sarah James-Cyrus

Thursday, December 23, 2010.

“Maybe this will teach us not to chase money, but be humble and treasure our friends and family instead” -Maria Segoria.

The year 2010 has been blighted with numerous natural disasters worldwide, ranging from the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, to the volcanic eruptions in Iceland. However, amongst the despair, feelings of hopelessness and loss of life, the world was privy to the emergence of a unique rescue that highlighted human resourcefulness, dedication and global benevolence.

On the 5th August, part of the San Jose mine in Chile, (in the Atacama Desert) collapsed, trapping 33 miners in a mine shaft 4.5 miles within its nadir and 700m (2,300ft) underground. This shock incident started the terrible countdown to their 69 day ordeal and a further collapse on the 7th halted any efforts to get them help.  The men trapped ranged in ages and expertise from Jimmy Sanchez (19), father of a four month baby, to Mario Gomez (64), who had worked in the mines from the tender age of ten.

The immediate provision of emergency supplies on the 17th highlighted the collaborative effort of the people. Whilst the set up of a communication line between the trapped miners and the outside world, emphasised the ingenuity and determination of a small community, who remained focused on maintaining the morale and wellbeing of the miners, whilst working on a timely, yet effective way to rescue them.

The rescue saw the implementation of three different plans using three types of drilling equipment, bringing the total cost to a monstrous 20 million dollars, (half of which was covered by private donations). However, what made this rescue inimitable and unique, was the inspirational way in which both the outside world and those who were trapped worked collectively. Whilst most would have expected the trapped workers to remain stagnant, inactive and dependent on others to provide that glimpse of daylight and freedom, they refused to!

Stifled by the heat, cramped conditions, lack of light and discomfort, they remained focused by splitting into three groups, depending on where they were trapped. These men discarded the mental anguish, caused by the prolonged waiting and adhered to a strict timetable to focus and preoccupy the mind. As well as scheduling time to exercise (to remain fit and avoid muscle wastage), they stuck to eight hour shifts of clearing the debris that fell from the pilot holes.

Their determination was supported by those on the outside world in the form of messages, live footage of a football match, charity support, schools set up for the children of the miners and the steady progression of their rescue mission. It became a worldwide fight against time until Mr Avalos surfaced at 00:10 on 13th September.
Remarkably, this rescue mission touched the hearts of humanity worldwide, flagged up the true   heroes of 2010 and showed the unremarkable power of a community when they work together.

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