NewsThis was the rescue of the San José mine,...

This was the rescue of the San José mine, the miracle of the 33 miners of Chile

Hundreds of soldiers and other rescuers participate in the rescue operation at the El Pinabete coal mine, in the town of Agujita, in Coahuila, a state in northern Mexico, where on August 3 a flood trapped 10 miners. Five others made it out alive.

Since that day there have been no signs of life from the workers who remain in the mine.

The efforts to try to rescue them alive recall the efforts to save the 33 miners who were trapped in the collapse of the San José mine, in northern Chile, an event that celebrated its 12th anniversary on August 5.

This is what happened in this mining rescue, one of the most remembered in history.

What happened at the San José mine?

A landslide at the San José mine —a copper deposit located in the Comuna de Caldera, in the Atacama region, in northern Chile— trapped 33 miners on August 5, 2010.

That day, around 2:00 p.m., a block of rock weighing 700.00 tons moved inside the San José mine, obstructing the only access road and part of the mine chimney, which belongs to the mining company Saint Stephen.

“This has been known for a long time. The mine was creaking. Some said it was because it was settling in and that the road was never going to be blocked,” Jorge Galleguillos explained to the EFE news agency.

A few hours, the owners of the company, Alejandro Bohn and Marcelo Kemeny, gave notice of the fact to the relatives of the miners who were trapped in this copper and gold deposit. Since then, the event has drawn the attention of Chile and the world.

How many days were the 33 Chilean miners trapped?

The miners were found alive 17 days after the collapse, on August 22, 2010.

A probe passed through the cavity where the miners were, at a temperature of more than 30 degrees, and the tube returned to the surface with a piece of paper with the brief message: “We 33 are fine in the shelter,” according to the Spanish agency.

The 33 miners managed to get to safety in a shelter at the bottom of the shaft and survived the first few weeks with a handful of preserves, a few packages of old cookies and a few liters of milk.

However, the miners could not be rescued alive until October 12 – 69 days later – after a huge operation to free them from the mine in which they were trapped.

This is how the miners came out

Then a careful operation was carried out, called San Lorenzo, which mobilized the government of the time, several companies, and more than 800 people, including volunteers and collaborators who did their best to rescue the trapped miners alive.

The objective of the operation was to open a hole wide enough to send a rescue capsule to the shelter, with three alternative plans being arranged for this purpose. During that time, the miners were fed and monitored, in addition to being allowed communication with their families.

After 33 days of drilling interrupted only by problems in the machinery, one of the three plans, Plan B, with the Schramm T130 machine managed to “break bottom” at a depth of 623 metres.

After partially casing the drilling, the extraction of the miners began through three capsules. At 00:00 hours on Wednesday, October 13, and 10 minutes later, the first miner was brought to the surface, continuing with the following ones, at a rate of about one per hour.

What has happened to them?

The search and rescue process led to fame at 33, a book was written and a movie was made, although they received no profit because, inexperienced and ill-advised, they gave up their rights.

31 of the 33 miners opened a civil proceeding against the Chilean government for moral damages. Last year, on June 11, 2021, the Santiago Court of Appeals ordered the 33 miners and their families to pay compensation, because they were trapped by the negligence of public agencies.

If the public organisms had complied with their obligation to inspect the mine and “the lack of evident safety conditions many years before the collapse, the workers would not have ended up buried alive,” the ruling stated.

With information from AFP

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