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8/11/10

The trapped Chilean miners

Your humble scribe received a mail this morning asking why I hadn't mentioned the plight of the 33 miners in Chile trapped deep underground by a rockfall, a story that has captured the attention of the country in question and raised many questions about permitting practices in Chile. Well in fact the sad story has been covered but it was mentioned in the Weekly, not here on the open blog. This is how IKN66 began last Sunday:

There but for the grace of God go I
Once again we have been reminded of the dangers of the mining industry, as a cave-in at a small Chilean copper mine has trapped 33 workers (of a total of 155 on that mine’s payroll) deep underground. Rescue work was severely hampered on Saturday when a rockfall in the ventilation shaft blocked rescuer’s access to the trapped miners (1).

Chile’s Mining Minister Golborne cut short his visit to Ecuador and Colombia (he was going to attend the Santos inauguration) and was on the scene within hours. Chile’s President Piñera left Colombia immediately after the ceremony Saturday to make it on site as quickly as protocol would allow. After meeting with families of the miners on site Saturday night he returned to Santiago to make the appropriate official noises from the Presidential Palace today.

This opening segment of IKN66 doesn’t seek to preach but merely wishes to add perspective. We’re all intelligent people here, so spare a thought.

For what it's worth, Setty has been covering the story well (along with the ensuing polemic) so go there for analysis in English. This corner of cyberspace isn't into rubbernecking but today we're posting about the Chile trapped miners because of heartening news out of Mexico. There, two miners were trapped in an underground cave-in for eight days. One died, but the other has just been rescued alive. Here's the report in Mexico's Jornada today (translated):

Saltillo, Coah. Plutarco Ruiz Loredo, 45, was pulled out alive by rescuers after being trapped for one week 90 metres underground in a coal mine in the municipality of Melchor Múquiz. Since the accident on July 30th, 12 workers have been saved but last Tuesday the Secretary of Work and Social Security for the region gave up hope for the two others inside the mine after they fell to the bottom of the mineshaft when the rope they were using broke. In fact the search was called off because the mine was flooded, but a squadron from the Northern Steelworkers Group re-started the mission. In the end, the only death was that of Ramón Sánchez Arellano, 30.

We send our best wishes for the survival of the Chilean miners and also a message: Don't lose hope, people. Fuerza Chile Carajo!

UPDATE: Setty today runs the story "Chile Fires mining regulators over mine collapse". Go look.