Mine res­cue a feel-good story

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

Re­porter An­drew Robin­son writes about the mirac­u­lous res­cue of more than 30 min­ers from deep be­neath the earthy in Chile. He calls it an amaz­ing story that likely won’t be topped any­time soon.

There are def­i­nitely more than a few peo­ple out there who com­plain that news fo­cuses all too of­ten on neg­a­tive sto­ries. Say what you will about whether you like hear­ing about bad news, but the fact re­mains when some­thing doesn’t go right, it’s of­ten a more newsworthy event than if they un­fold as ex­pected.

This case can be mag­ni­fied when look­ing at in­ter­na­tional news head­lines. More of­ten than not, the pub­lic will be ex­posed to sto­ries of hard­ships. Hunger, war, po­lit­i­cal turmoil, and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters tend to get a lot of at­ten­tion.

Last week, there was a story that had an al­most im­prob­a­ble happy end­ing.

Two months ago, 33 Chilean min­ers were trapped un­der­ground in a rock dun­geon. When the news first broke, it was hard to imag­ine they would ever breathe above the ground again.

But last Thurs­day, fol­low­ing lengthy res­cue ef­forts that were planned-out ex­ten­sively, the last of the 33 min­ers ex­ited the mine safety. Their 70-days un­der­ground rep­re­sents a world-record for time trapped be­low the Earth’s sur­face.

If you were amongst those fol­low­ing the events live on­line, the sight of the min­ers be­ing greeted by fam­ily mem­bers was in­cred­i­bly mov­ing. For the first 17 days un­der­ground, they were com­pletely iso­lated from the out­side world. Imag­ine psy­cho­log­i­cally what that must have felt like. Main­tain­ing hope in such cir­cum­stances is nearly un­think­able.

But con­tact was made, and as­sur­ances were given that they would all be res­cued. From there, the min­ers be­gan to cre­ate their own lit­tle so­ci­ety.

If you have ac­cess to the In­ter­net, there is a fan­tas­tic ar­ti­cle pub­lished by the Bri­tish news­pa­per The Guardian that out­lines how the trapped min­ers lived through an av­er­age day un­der­ground.

They were supplied with light for 12 hours each day, and were sent food, letters, and medicine through a metal tube. It took one hour for food to travel 700 me­tres.

Af­ter break­fast, they would clean their liv­ing quar­ters. Spe­cific ar­eas were des­ig­nated for waste, garbage, and re­cy­clables. They also had ac­cess to a nat­u­ral wa­ter­fall for bathing. They worked in teams for half-day shifts to en­sure that their liv­ing spa­ces re­mained se­cure.

In or­der to main­tain hope, the min­ers held a daily prayer ses­sion. One miner with some first aid train­ing be­came the team’s de facto doc­tor, re­ly­ing heav­ily on help from med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als high above him.

De­spite their liv­ing con­di­tions, the group even found time to share in some lighter mo­ments. A tele­vi­sion was made avail­able at one point to let them watch the na­tional soc­cer team play the Ukraine. Sadly, Chile lost 3-1.

But the min­ers won thanks to a big team ef­fort. It’s an in­cred­i­ble feel-good story, un­likely to be topped this year.

-An­drew Robin­son, The Com­pass

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