All 33 Miners Rescued!
October 14, 2010
During lunch on Tuesday, I turn on the TV to check the news of the miners. Something’s happening. I long to be
in Chile in person to see the activity up close.
2:15 p.m. here in Seattle / 6:15 p.m. in Chile:
I discover a live web cam online (from the Guardian in the UK) that has no commentary, just real time sights and sounds at the mining camp four time zones away. About 2550 viewers are logged on with me.
The Chilean sky is clear over barren hills. People smile nervously and watch every move of every machine, no matter how slight. Someone in a tent strums a guitar and sings. Everything is in Spanish, which I don’t know, but I understand some words that are recognizable in English or French. The non-verbal comes through loud and clear.
3:00 p.m. here / 7:00 p.m. in Chile:
I call my parents to tell them what’s happening.
Men in white hard hats, their hands clasped, sit in a row on folding chairs near the scaffolding over the hole that leads a half mile down to the miners’ shelter. Engineers fiddle with the capsule. Wrenches clang. The camera switches to an overview of the camp. Someone sits atop a white horse next to a flag under the setting sun. Men in red jackets cluster. Others carry clipboards, talk into phones. Uniformed men arrive as a helicopter flies over.
Restless, I open another window on my computer and try to play an online game, Literati, but keep losing because I’m distracted by the preparations at the mining camp. Tension builds.
3:58 p.m. here / 7:58 p.m. in Chile:
An official says they will make a dry run first and expect to raise the first miner within two hours. (The sounds of tools and sporadic pounding remind me of my dad fixing the car while I held the light as a little girl.)
4:56 p.m. here / 8:56 p.m. in Chile:
The camera centers on what looks like a manhole. By hand, someone unwinds the cable from the winch to the capsule. A worker initially drapes a piece of fabric over the rim of the hole for the cable and later replaces it with a pulley wheel. Workers position the one-person capsule, painted red-white-and-blue with “Fenix” in black letters, into place.
~7:15 p.m. here/ ~ 11:15 p.m. in Chile
A rescuer climbs into the capsule and gets out again. Workers make adjustments. The rescuer gets in again and the door is closed. The cable unwinds, and the capsule descends into the shaft.
7:35 p.m. here / 11:56 p.m. in Chile
Below ground, a camera is trained on the hole in the ceiling of the cavern.
The capsule with the rescuer reaches the miners! The rescuer talks to them and hands them suits to wear for the journey up. The first miner finally gets into the capsule and it disappears upward into the shaft. Above ground the wheel turns as the capsule is pulled.
7:50 p.m. here / 11:50 p.m. in Chile:
The crowd above rushes en mass from the video screens to the viewing area by the capsule shaft.
7:56 p.m. here / 11:56 p.m. in Chile:
The capsule breaks the surface with the first miner! People cheer, clap, and whistle. Wearing dark glasses, Florencio Ávalos hugs his kids and wife, the president of Chile and other officials. He’s been second-in-command of the miners during the 68-day ordeal.
(Glued to the view from my computer, I almost feel the hug.)
With over 5000 viewers online and millions more worldwide, I watch the second and third miners come up.
The next morning, a radio newscaster says the 13th miner has been rescued. I concentrate on writing during the morning. Toward noon, I take the ferry to a writing session in Whidbey Island.
On the way home, I tune in to an interview on the radio with a “Plan B engineer” and look forward to learning more in the coming weeks and months.
6 p.m. here / 10 p.m. in Chile:
I hear on the radio—the 33rd miner has been rescued! I call my husband to tell him the news. As soon as I get home, I watch an online video of the last miner’s rescue. Such a moment!
TV coverage says President Pinera has been there all night and all day, cheering on the team. Workers start bringing up the six rescuers who are still deep underground.
8:33 p.m. here / 12:33 a.m. in Chile:
The last rescuer, Manuel Gonzalez, makes it to the surface and steps out of the capsule. Mission accomplished! The joy is indescribable. With the crowd, I want to yell, “¡Chi-chi-chi…le, le, le!”
Today, I learn that a topographer named Macarena Valdes is the person who aimed the probe which broke through to the miners on Aug. 22nd. I can’t wait to read more about the other engineers, drillers, rescuers, and families who never gave up. We’re rejoicing with you!
So many answers to prayer. So much teamwork. May God be praised!