Today in History: 33 Miners Trapped Underground in Chile Rescued After 69 day

Today in History: 33 Miners Trapped Underground  in Chile Rescued After 69 day

M.C. Millman

On October 13, 2010, the last of thirty-three miners trapped for more than two months at a caved-in mine in northern Chile were rescued.

The accident happened on August 5, 2010, at the San Jose gold and copper mine in the Atacama Desert. When the mine collapsed, the miners were stuck 296.6 feet under the ground.

The group, which included men from ages nineteen to sixty-three, moved to an underground emergency shelter area with a few days’ worth of food rations. After seventeen days of no contact with the outside world and no new food source, the miners later shared that they were considering suicide and even cannibalism. 

On August 22, rescuers drilled through to where the miners were located.

The men were able to send a note back which said, “We are fine in the refuge, the 33.” 

The narrow hole allowed the delivery of food, water, letters, medicine, and other supplies. A video camera was also delivered, giving the world a dim view of the cramped and overheated space the thirty-three had to make do with. 

Experts from around the world collaborated on a way to rescue the group. Eventually, a reinforced escape shaft was drilled. It was wide enough to allow the men to be rescued through it one at a time.

The first of the miners came through the shaft on October 12. It took about  15 minutes for each man to get up to the top, where he was greeted by a crowd of wellwishers, including Chile’s president, while millions worldwide watched the rescue live.

It took less than 24 hours to save all thirty -three of the miners. They were each brought up wearing dark glasses to protect their eyes, which had been in the dark for so long. 

The rescue mission cost $20 million in total.

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