Friday, October 8, 2010

The Claustrophobic Rise of The Phoenix

One of the trapped...a haunting ghostly image..

The biggest global news event of the second half of the year will be the rescue of the trapped Chilean mine workers, expected sometime early next week. Perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday.

The BBC alone has dispatched a news crew of over 25 people to capture the events as they unfold live on TV. The BBC has the largest news crew on the site. Second is the Chilean news network, TVN. Reporters are converging on the tiny "town", located in one of the most remote regions on Earth (and the driest, The Atacama Desert), from all over the world, in hopes of bringing the first news footage of the rescued men.

The 33 miners, trapped in the San Jose Mine since August 5, 2010 are not being told that rescue could be "imminent." Officials do not want to get their hopes up. The men are being sent items like sunglasses that might tip them off, but rescuers will literally be "knocking on the door" so to speak, before telling the men this is the day.

The rescue capsule is named "The Phoenix". It's a typical mine rescue tube with an interior cage only 26 inches across.

The drill is expected to reach the miners this weekend, with an additional 48 hours or so needed until the shaft is shored up enough to lower The Phoenix capsule. The men are trapped 2,300 feet (!) below the surface so even when this rescue gets rolling, it will still take days to extract all 33 men. One man an hour would be 33 hours alone and we think it will take longer than that.

Family members are besides themselves with anticipation. Emotions have been and will remain super-high with a predicted crescendo to explode when the men start popping out of the tube.

Unfortunately, the consequences of being underground for such a long time are causing dehabilitating effects. The men are expected to be practically blinded at rescue so even with the preparation of sunglasses, the men will be unable to see. It may take weeks for them to recover normal vision and tolerance for direct sunlight.

Then again, human beings are remarkable resilient. All some of these guys might need to totally rebound is one "normal" day with a steak, a smoke, a drink, sleep in a real bed, a shower and some sex! Who cares if you can barely open your eyes if you can eat and breathe and hug your wife and kids! That is the only medicine they will really need. Family.

Hopefully, none of them will have any long-term lingering effects or suffer from PTS. And we wonder, if they have bonded, like the Andean survivors of the 70's? Will these guys meet every few years to share stories and reunite as brothers? Will they want to put it behind them forever?

UPDATE: The rescue, if all goes according to plan, will begin Tuesday and take up to at least 48 hours. The Phoenix will arrive with more personnel first, to help the miners, so that will take a few additional trips early on. Then each man will face a 20 minute ride to the surface. We cannot wait!

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