The Light at the End of the Tunnel. Literally.

By Olivia Jaras and Jacqueline Strzemp, Center for Strategic Research

Chilean President embracing rescued minerDefying all odds, this past Wednesday was the culmination of a 70 day effort to extricate 33 Chilean miners who were trapped over half a mile under the earth. For the first seventeen days, they were sustained by spoonfuls of tuna, milk, crackers and small portions of peach toppings every other day. Their water supply was also very limited. For those first two weeks, their loved ones doubted the miners would survive, yet, on the seventeenth day, news arrived that all were alive, trapped in an emergency shelter within the mine.

In the following weeks, numerous ideas were posited on how to rescue these miners in an effective and expedient way; in the meantime, oxygen was being pumped into the mine to help the miners avoid asphyxiation until they could be rescued. There were three separate efforts to drill an escape tunnel for the miners, and, in the meantime, rescue holes were drilled to provide amenities such as bibles, empanadas, toothbrushes, and other miscellaneous requests to make the miners more comfortable in their predicament. The original projection was that they would not be rescued until Christmas, though Chilean President Sebastian Piñera was pulling out all the stops for the rescue to come to fruition.

The international community avidly supported the rescue effort to help the miners survive — even NASA donated gels, food, and equipment that are generally used in space expeditions. Technology and equipment were provided by Australia, the United States, Canada, and other countries, representing the high levels of coordination and cooperation that occurred in the international community.

On Wednesday night, October 13, the last of the miners was rescued via a specifically designed rescue capsule. It took approximately one hour to bring each person to the surface. Upon their return above ground, the miners were met by a team of health experts, their family and friends, President Piñera, and even Bolivian President Evo Morales. After emotional moments shared among the miners and their families, they were sent to the hospital for observation, since it is possible that they could have a variety of health problems (including muscle atrophy, pneumonia, and dental issues) after being trapped underground for so long.

The world was captivated by the rescue effort, which was broadcast live on various television networks, pushing these miners to a new level of international fame. While all of this was occurring, President Piñera, who was on site for the culmination of the rescue effort, constantly received calls of support from the Latin American and international community, demonstrating the full impact of the global community’s strong solidarity and what this solidarity and collaborative effort can achieve in a time of crisis.

What does the Chiliean miners rescue event mean for other global disasters, and how can this goodwill be replicated?

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Filed under Energy, Featured News, Regional Studies, Uncategorized

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