Latest developments in Chile mine rescue operation

2010-10-14 07:38

Roughly 22 hours after the first trapped Chilean miner was hoisted to the surface, the last miner was brought to safety in a methodical rescue operation that captivated the world and ended a two-month underground ordeal.

About two-and-a-half hours later, the last of the six rescuers to emerged from the gold and copper mine in Chile’s northern Atacama desert early today. Manuel Gonzalez, the first of the rescuers to enter the mine, was the last to leave.

The miners had spent more than two months trapped 625m underground after a cave-in at the mine.

The final miner to emerge was Luis Urzua (54) the shift supervisor who became the leader of the trapped miners, organising the men into watches, rationing food and maintaining order during 17 days without contact from the surface.

Top developments
» The miners were transported to the surface inside a specially designed steel capsule barely wider than a man’s shoulders, and emerged one by one as national heroes in the South American country.

» Bells and horns sounded throughout Chile in celebration, while a crowd outside the mine chanted “Viva Chile” amid smiles, tears and a sea of red-white-and-blue national flags.

» The miners are facing new-found celebrity. A local singer-turned-businessman has given them $10 000 each.

Apple boss Steve Jobs has sent them all a latest iPod.

A Greek firm has offered an islands tour.

Real Madrid and Manchester United have invited them to watch them play in Europe.

» It was quite a day for the rescued miners. One became a father during his captivity. Another returned to the surface with a book draft. A third was met by his mistress while his wife stayed home.

» Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, a billionaire entrepreneur who took office in March and was at the mine throughout the rescue operation, has ordered an overhaul of safety regulations after the mine collapse.

» Bolivian President Evo Morales was on the scene to greet the sole foreign miner – Bolivian Carlos Mamani – after his rescue.

» US President Barack Obama hailed the operation, saying: “This rescue is a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government but also the unity and resolve of the Chilean people who have inspired the world.”

» The miners were sent for medical checkups and found to be in “more than satisfactory” health, except for one who has pneumonia and is being treated with antibiotics.

Background and context
» The accident shone a spotlight on lax mining controls in the world’s top copper producer, but also highlighted a mature industry that has the machinery and expertise to handle one of the world’s most challenging rescues ever.

» The ordeal began with a cave-in on August 5 that trapped the miners about 625m underground in the mine near the northern Chilean city of Copiapo, 800km north of Santiago.

»With ingenuity and cutting-edge technology, the men survived trapped underground for more than two months fending off hunger, anxiety and illness in a record-setting feat of survival.

Quote of the day
» “I have been with God and I’ve been with the devil.” – Mario Sepulveda, the second miner to be pulled from the mine.

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