The world rejoices with the Chileans in the truly remarkable feat of rescuing 33 miners trapped 2000 feet underground for 69 days. No-one has ever survived so long underground, and for 33 miners to do so is cause for thankfulness to God.
Public acknowledgement and thankfulness to God
This was recognised by the President of Chile Sebastián Piñera who said that he wanted “to give thanks to God in the first instance for helping them.” It is good to see this public acknowledgement of God before the world’s assembled media, and when the oldest miner was rescued he hugged his wife, and then kneeled down on the ground and prayed before the world, and after this he greeted the President. They had their priorities right.
Such a rescue attempt has never been done before at these depths and it is a triumph for the engineers.
The rescue of 33 trapped miners from the San Jose copper mine in Copiapo, Chile, which collapsed on 5/8/2010, was completed today, within 22 hours of the first miner being brought to the surface yesterday. It took 17 days and seven failed probing attempts to discover that they were still alive and to locate them in an emergency shelter. On 22/8/2010 a human face appeared at the end of a camera probe, then a tiny note attached to the end of the drill informed the surface rescuers and the waiting world that “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33” – “we are well and all 33 in the refuge”. It was originally thought that it would take till December to rescue them. One of the miners was a well-known former footballer, and a fibre optic cable enabled them to watch the national Chilean football team play a match while they awaited rescue. The Fenix 2 (“Phoenix”) capsule brought the first miner Florencio Avalos to the surface at the make-shift Camp Hope at 0010 local time (0310 GMT) on 13/10/2010. The second rescued miner gave the only press conference and said that he had been with God and the devil; they fought and God won. The BBC website said: “0645: Psychologist James Thompson tells BBC News the miners went through 17 days of pure hell before they were found, 52 days of modified hell as they awaited rescue, and must now feel they are close to heaven.” The ninth miner rescued was the oldest one at 63 y/o who wrote the original message which informed the world that all 33 miners were still alive. Mario Gomez had worked in mines since he was 12 y/o and had been planning to retire in November. At 12 midday Gomez emerge from the tunnel. After hugging his wife, he kneeled down on the ground and prayed.
As the rescue progressed, the transit time for the Phoenix improved managing the 622 metres in about eight to nine minutes. Instead of taking 36 hours to bring them all to the surface, the rescue was completed in 21 hours 44 minutes without pause or hitch.
The last miner to be rescued, Luis Urzua, the shift foreman under whose leadership the spirits of the men were maintained from the beginning, was brought to the surface and stepped out of the capsule at 01:57 hrs UK time (0057 GMT). He was greeted by the President who once more acknowledged God and said: “I want to thank God Who was on our side.”
The country and the continent rejoice, and the world rejoices with them.
The miners emerged wearing identical T-shirts with the Chilean flag on the front and the message “Thank you, Lord” in English and Spanish.
The back of their shirts carried words from Psalm 95:4 “In His hand are the depths of the Earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. To Him be the glory and the honour.” The shirts were made by the brother of trapped miner Jose Henriquez, an evangelist who has been the group’s spiritual leader. He has been leading the men in daily prayers, with many of the miners telling their familes that they had found a new faith in God since the accident. One of these is Mario Gomez who went down on his knees as described above.
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”