Trapped Chilean Miners Have No Idea Their Rescue May Take Four Months


As we learned earlier this week, there are 33 miners trapped 2,000 feet underground after a mine cave-in in San Jose, Chile. Fortunately, they are all still alive. Unfortunately, it’s going to take three to four months to extricate them, via drilling a hole large enough for their release. This story deserves to be mentioned because, honestly, it is just insane.

Right now, these poor men are subsisting on gel-like substances (and notes from their families read via tiny lights) passed through a small borehole from the surface. People have gone nuts in far easier circumstances. Then, the New York Times informs us, no one has told them it might take more than three months to get them out! Why? “For fear of breaking their spirit.”

But, really, is this “secret” going to last very long, what with the media knowing it, and families communicating with the trapped miners? Wouldn’t it be better to just tell them instead of it coming out in a note, or spreading like a rumor among the ranks?

“Psychologically, we have to try to keep them on the right track,” said Laurence Golborne, Chile’s mining minister. “They are miners, so they understand the situation they are living. They understand that we have to go through 700 meters of solid rock to rescue them.” But even so, he added, “we don’t want them to suffer ups and downs.”

Maybe he’s right (after all, he’s the mining minister), but it seems like the ups and downs have kinda already been set in motion here.

Let’s just set the stage: These 33 guys are trapped in what’s described as a “hot, stuffy chamber” measuring 33 by 20 feet, where they will eat and sleep and attempt to exercise and do their business. They’re getting sugared water and a gel with vitamins and protein for the next five days; after that, they’ll get solid food delivered through a plastic tube. Before they were discovered, they lived on “two spoonfuls of tuna, a cup of milk, one cracker, and a bit of a peach topping eaten every two days.” One of them has asthma! As they wait for rescue, they’ll play dominoes and card games to keep their minds engaged. For three months. This could be a very successful reality show, if it weren’t actually real.

Psychologists are now preparing family members to speak to the miners for the first time, cautioning them not to become too emotional or mention the estimated timetable for the rescue, which government officials still hold out hopes can be reduced to as little as a month.

Man, we hope so, too.

[via NYT]

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