Labor History in 2:00

October 13 - An International Effort

October 13, 2021

On this day in labor history, the year was 2010.

That was the day thirty-three Chilean miners were finally pulled to safety after being trapped for sixty-nine days. 

Workers had been mining copper and gold twenty three hundred feet down, at the San Jose mine near the northern city of Copiapo, when the mine caved in, in early August.

The Compania Minera San Esteban Primera waited several hours to notify authorities and rescue efforts only began two days later.

Trapped miners initially tried to escape through ventilation shafts but found required ladders missing.

Each route they attempted was blocked by fallen rock or threatened additional collapse.

A state owned mining  company took over rescue efforts and soon they began, as Geologist Sorena Sorensen noted, prospecting for people. 

Initial exploratory boreholes failed to locate miners because mineshaft maps had never been updated. 

Rescuers had no idea whether miners were even still alive. 

Finally, seventeen days later, the eighth borehole reached them. 

The miners tapped on the drill and taped notes to it, alerting rescuers above they were indeed alive and well. 

Food, medicine and other supplies were lowered down to them as rescue efforts intensified. 

Mini cameras were also lowered down and the miners videotaped messages of their continued ordeal. 

They told how they continued to search for possible escape routes and agreed to ration their limited food supplies so they could all survive. 

The first of three drilling plans to free the miners began. 

It was an international effort. 

The Chilean Navy consulted with NASA to design and construct the rescue pods. 

Throughout the entire process, rescuers worked to prevent additional cave-ins and rock falls. 

Finally the extraction process began and in less than 48 hours all emerged as heroes.

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App