Story of 2010: The 33 Chilean Miners

January 13, 2024
1 min read

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

The year 2010 has
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

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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