See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Chile: 33 Trapped Miners Are Alive

Estamos bien en el refugio los 33

The 33 of us in the shelter are well

These were the words that confirmed that 33 miners trapped for 17 days inside a copper and gold mine near the city of Copiapó are still alive. The message [es] was inscribed with red ink on a white piece of paper inside a plastic bag. The bag was tied to the end of a metal drill used to reach a shelter deep inside the mine where engineers estimated the trapped miners would be located.

Though a rescue worker had informed the relatives of the miners about the message [es] early in the morning, the government did not confirm the news until 4 pm local time (UTC/GMT -4 hours). President Sebastian Piñera delivered the news outside the mine, as shown in the video below, sparking spontaneous demonstrations of joy on the streets of several cities, and bringing much-needed relief to relatives and Chileans throughout the country.

Video by YouTube user dvary13, taken outside the San Jose mine on August 22, 2010.

Jinny, the author of the blog The Jinny Show [es], expressed joy at the positive news:

17 dias! Porfin tenemos noticias de los mineros!! porfin!!! TODOS VIVOS! los 33!, que buenooo =) increible! vi en las noticias en la mañana que el refugio en el que se encuentran contiene alimentacion solo para 48 hrs!!! y para una cantidad limitada de mineros! hay que destacar la fuerza y la capacidad de organizacion que tienen para poder sobrevivir asi =) ahora a esperar como 4 meces dicen :S para poder recien sacarlos.

17 days! Finally we have news from the miners!! finally!!! ALL ALIVE! the 33!, how great =) incredible! saw in the news this morning that the shelter in which they are has food supplies only for 48 hours!!! and for a limited number of miners! we must recognize the strength and organizational capacity that they have to survive like that =) now we have to wait like 4 months they say :S just to get them out.

Six days earlier, rescue teams were forced to halt operations inside the mine and inside a ventilation shaft [es] because both were considered to be very unstable. The decision was made to continue the search by using drills only. These would dig narrow holes to send vital supplies to the miners.

The fact that an immediate rescue was ruled out made many Chileans hopeless. The blog Orgullo Eterno [es] reflected on the hopes that had previously faded:

Habían pasado 17 días desde que se supo que estos mineros se encontraban atrapados en lo subterráneo del norte de Chile…Nunca se perdió la fe, yo personalmente nunca dije “están muertos”, “No, ya no hay nada más que hacer”. ¡Son mineros!, llevan en sus manos esfuerzo, paciencia y mucha sabiduría cuando se trata de su trabajo y de propia tierra.

Seventeen days had passed since it was known that these miners were trapped underground in the north of Chile…Faith was never lost. I personally never said “they are dead” , “No, there's nothing left to do”. They are miners! In their hands, they carry effort, patience, and much wisdom when it comes down to their work and their own land.

Relatives of the miners on a hill near the entry to the San José mine. Photo by Flickr user AlexCamPro used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.

Conversations about the day's event also took place on Twitter with the hashtag #mineros, making it a worldwide trending topic. Daniela Ramirez (@DanielaRamirezA) simply expressed her happiness for the miners [es], as did Juan Pablo Soto [es] (@jpsoto):

Estoy feliz, aunque no menosprecio la pega que queda ahora. Lo que más me impactó fue la lucidez y eficacia del mensaje. ¡Vamos #Mineros!

I'm happy, though I don't underestimate the work that's left now. What shocked me most was the clarity and efficacy of the message. Go Miners!

Besides happiness, many expressed their discontent with the government of Sebastian Piñera for not notifying the relatives of the miners earlier about the note attached to the drill. Ign. Rodríguez (@micronauta) was one such Chilean [es]:

… creo q perfil d chileno q hace squatting d nombres y uso comercial d accidente a #mineros es mismo q retrasa la noticia para darla él.

…I think the profile of a Chilean that does name squatting and makes commercial use of the accident of the miners is the same [profile] of he who delays the news to deliver them himself.

On the contrary, Eduardo Zuniga (@eduardoz) opposed this view and expressed his support [es] for the government's performance in the search and rescue efforts:

Sobra la gente que no reconozca la eficiente y comprometida labor del #gobierno con los #mineros, basta de ciegos, fue un excelente trabajo

There are plenty of people who don't acknowledge the efficient and dedicated work of the government towards the miners, [I've had] enough with the blind, it was an excellent work.

Others reflected on what will ensue once the tragedy is over. Juan Pablo Ayala (@jampaloide) said [es]:

Ojalá que con la buena noticia de los #mineros venga el periodo de reflexión, no puede ser que las empresas lucren de esa manera!

I hope that with the good news about the miners comes a period of reflection. It can't be that companies profit in that way!

Roberto Arancibia, author of El Mundo Sigue Ahí (The World is Still There) [es], wrote:

Un país entero se asombra por la fortaleza de estos 33 mineros atrapados. Si esto va a ayudar a la seguridad de otros mineros, bienvenidas las nuevas medidas, y el reforzamiento de inspecciones para hacerlas cumplir [...] Todos estos días he pensado en esas 33 familias, parejas, novias, hijas, madres. No es justo, de verdad que no es justo todo lo que han pasado.

An entire country is impressed by the strength of these 33 trapped miners. If this will help the security of other miners, then the new measures are welcomed, as well as reinforcement of inspections so that these measures are enforced [...] All these days I have thought about those 33 families, couples, girlfriends, daughters, mothers. It's not fair. It's truly not fair what they've gone through.

The Internet has been booming with support for the miners, their families, and rescue workers. Twitter users widely circulated this cartoon as a way to show their support:

"Here's a gift from the 16 million (Chileans). So you can hang on while we get there." Work by Alberto Montt, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site