Wednesday May 22, 2013
Rescue of Miners in Chile Comes to FruitionTim King Salem-News.com
The first miner of 33 is rescued after 69 days underground.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Four of the 33 trapped Chilean miners isolated since the Copiapó mining accident on 5 August 2010 have been rescued. A serious organized rescue effort got underway Tuesday night. Chile's President Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique told his people that workers would not give up until the miners were safely recovered.
The effort began with a rescue team member entering a narrow shaft in a 'capsule' which was used to descend the narrow shaft from where teams plan to recover the miners.
A rescuer named Manuel Gonzalez spent 17 minutes descending to the location of the trapped miners, almost half a mile below ground.
Wikipedia says the miners have survived underground for a longer period of time than any other group in any prior mining accident.
The San José copper-gold mine, near Copiapó, Chile, collapse left the 33 men trapped deep below ground in an area north of Copiapó, in the northern end of Chile.
The miners have been trapped at approximately 700 metres (2,300 ft) deep and about 5 kilometres (3 mi), following the twists and turns of the main entrance shaft, from the mine entrance.
Background on the accident and collapse:
The collapse occurred on 5 August 2010, at 2:00 p.m. local time according to statements from the Empresa Minera San Esteban mining company.
Rescue efforts began the next day, 6 August, under the supervision of the Chilean Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, the Chilean Undersecretary of Mining, and the director of the SERNAGEOMIN (the National Mining and Geology Service), according to Wikipedia. The Oficina Nacional de Emergencias del Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI – National Emergencies Office of the Interior Ministry) reported that day the names of the 33 miners trapped in the mine. One is Franklin Lobos Ramírez, a retired Chilean footballer. Another miner is Bolivian; the others are Chilean.
Chilean Minister of Mining, Laurence Golborne, was in Ecuador at the time of the disaster and arrived at the disaster site the next day, on 7 August.
According to Wikipedia:
"When the collapse occurred, there were two groups of miners. The main group of 33 miners was deep inside the mine and included several workers, some subcontracted employees of a different company, who would not normally have been with them. A second group of miners was near or at the entrance of the mine and escaped immediately without incident.
"A dust cloud occurred during the collapse, blinding many miners for six hours and causing lingering eye irritation and burning.
"The trapped group of miners tried to escape through a ventilation shaft system, but the ladders required by mining safety codes were missing and the shaft later became unusable during subsequent geological movements."
The company had previously been ordered by supervisory authorities to install ladders after an earlier accident had caused authorities to close the historically accident plagued mine as a condition of restarting operations."
Luis Urzua, shift supervisor of the trapped miners, recognized the gravity of the situation and the difficulty of any rescue attempt, if one was even possible. He gathered his men in a secure room called a "refuge" and organized them. along with his meager resources- for a long term survival situation.
Wikipedia states: "Experienced miners were sent out to assess the situation, men with important skills were tasked with key roles and numerous other measures were taken to ensure the survival of the men during a long-term entrapment."
The plan to bring the miners to safety was launched Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. local time.
The first rescuer lowered down to the miners was Manuel González Pavez (Codelco), according to Wikipedia, at 11:19 p.m. local time.
As he ventured toward the trapped workers, the families of the 33 men gathered and prayed. The families, along with rescue team members, sang the National Anthem of Chile.
Pavez made contact with miners at 11:36 p.m. local time, greeting men who had not seen the light of day for months.
Approximately 15 minutes after reaching the site, all miners hugged each other and say goodbye to the first to leave, 31-year old Florencio Ávalos, wishing him luck on the journey. This scene, along with the entire rescue, is playing out on the live signal accompanying this report.
The main objective according to the rescue teams, is to rescue the first four miners, who will be able to provide valuable information to the rescue team about the escape route, and offer updates on the conditions of the other miners.
It takes about half an hour to raise and lower the rescue capsule with a miner inside.
The estimated total time for the rescue operation is approximately 16 hours. This particular capsule is called Fénix (Phoenix). Three of these units will be used.
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