Reuters reported today that 33 miners feared dead in a Chilean mine collapse were still alive. Authorities in Chile had been downplaying hopes that there were any survivors from the mine accident over two weeks ago, but had drilled a test bore hole into the area where they thought there could possibly be survivors. And, miraculously, the prayers of the miners’ families were answered today when the drill was brought to the surface with a note attached saying all 33 miners were still alive.
It was an amazingly emotional moment carried on Chilean national television when the news of the note was released, with cheers heard all across the country and the miners’ friends and relatives hugging and crying for joy.
“The 33 of us in the shelter are well,” read the note, held aloft by the President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera.
It seems that all of the miners had managed to scramble to safety in an emergency shelter designed for this kind of situation after the mine collapsed above them. Furthermore, the emergency shelter at the San Jose mine is designed with close access to backup ventilation shafts, and it is almost certain that the miners also have access to deep underground natural water supplies.
Authorities commented further that the next step would be to lower a camera and microphone down the shaft to locate the miners, and then various supplies, including high-protein food concentrates, hydration gels, and communication equipment, would be delivered to the miners through the narrow borehole in the coming days.
However, rescuers also cautioned everyone not to get their hopes up too high as the miners are trapped over 700 feet below the ground, and a full-scale rescue operation to drill a shaft big enough to remove the men could take up to 120 days.
The small gold and copper mine, located in northern Chile near the town of Copiapo, is owned by Chilean mining company Compania Minera San Esteban Primera. While major mining accidents are rare in Chile, the government said the San Jose mine has suffered a series of mishaps, and 16 workers have been killed in accidents in recent years.