AMERICAS NEWS AUGUST 23, 2010
Trapped Chilean Miners Are Alive
By MATT MOFFETT
Thirty three miners in northern Chile who have been trapped nearly half a mile underground since Aug. 5 sent out a dramatic message attached to a drill operated by rescuers that they were well and holding out in a shelter.
After receiving a note that says all 33 trapped miners are safe, family and rescue workers are optimistic regarding their eventual release.
The miners in the San Jose gold and copper mine said they had been holed up in a refuge since the cave-in and had water, as well as light, thanks to a truck that was parked there. "We are well in the shelter the 33," read the note, written in red paint, and brandished triumphantly by President Sebastian Piñera, who held a bullhorn in his right hand.
The news triggered a wave of rejoicing throughout Chile, where the rescue effort has prompted around-the-clock TV coverage and multiple visits to the site by Mr. Piñera. Firemen in the city of Santiago blared their sirens Sunday and soccer fans at Santiago stadiums held up signs hailing the miners and their rescuers.
"All of Chile is shedding tears of joy," Mr. Piñera said. But he and other Chilean authorities added that extricating the miners from the rickety mine would be an arduous task that could take months. The miners were located in a shelter about 2,200 feet underground.
Having located the miners, rescuers lowered a video camera and said they would release images Sunday night. Rescuers said they would supply food and water to the trapped miners through thin plastic tubes.
In a message tied to a drill, thirty-three miners trapped underground for more than two weeks after a cave-in said they are all alive. Video courtesy of Reuters.
Mr. Piñera read a personal note a 63-year-old miner named Mario Gomez had written to his wife, and placed in a plastic bag that had been attached to the drill with cables.
"God is great and we are going to come out with the help of my god," Mr. Gomez's letter said. He said he was eager to speak to his son-in-law and closed the letter, writing, "May God illuminate you, and greetings to my family. I love you."
Family members and friends of the miners who had been keeping a vigil above ground were euphoric and broke out into a spontaneous rendition of the Chilean national anthem.