Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Chilean Miners Rescued

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Unfortunately, this rejoicing was rudely interrupted when relatives – who sat in vigil (at campamento esperanza) for the 17 days during which the miners were presumed dead – received the damoclean word that rescuers would not be able to reach their still-kicking loved ones until Christmas.  That’s four months from now.

(Chilean Miners Trapped, The iPINIONS Journal, August 26, 2010)

On August 5, 700,000 tons of rock collapsed on 33 miners in Chile’s San Jose Mine, trapping them some 2,257 feet underground. It then took 17 days of drilling, literally in the dark, before rescuers found them, and the joy of learning that they were all alive was felt worldwide.

Unfortunately, as my opening quote indicates, this joy was tempered by reports that the fate of the miners remained very much in doubt; after all, their rescuers still faced the herculean task of extracting them.

Therefore there’s no gainsaying the miracle that is unfolding there today. For, after 69 days, those miners are being extracted, with unprecedented technical precision, one by one. In fact, as I write this (at 2 pm), 18 of them have already been rescued; and the last miner is expected to ride to freedom in the custom-designed rescue capsule late this evening or early in the morning.

(Incidentally, it took these mining experts less than half the time to rescue these miners than it took BP’s drilling experts to kill the exploded well that spewed so much oil off the coast of Louisiana. But I digress….)

Indeed, nothing demonstrates the miraculous, historic and sensational nature of this rescue quite like the fact that news crews from virtually every country on earth, including North Korea, are covering it live.

This rescue operation has been so marvelous, so clean, so emotional that there was no reason not to allow the eyes of the world – which have been watching this operation so closely – to see it.

(Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, ABC News, October 13, 2010)

But am I the only one who finds this saturation coverage a bit much?

I mean, after watching the rescue of the first miner just after 11 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, the rescue of the second one 45 minutes later seemed, well, anticlimactic.

Yet when I woke up this morning I was greeted with the same coverage, on every channel, featuring news anchors blabbering on with the same comments about how much weight the men had lost, how they spent time and organized their lives below, how their loved ones (including mistresses) were coping above, how, and in which order, the mining experts were planning to extract them, etc., etc.

Mind you, hearing this once or twice is interesting. But it’s beyond me why TV executives think covering this same scenario with the same commentary for 48 hours straight (as they all seem intent on doing) makes for good television.  Hell, you’d think there was nothing else going on in the entire world.

Frankly, watching for only a few minutes again this morning was rather like watching a re-run of CNN’s Headline News. Nonetheless, as far as reality TV goes, it certainly beats the Jersey Shore….

That said, I really could not be happier for the miners and their loved ones. Moreover, we should all join Chileans in taking unbridled pride in this remarkable human achievement, especially the courage the miners demonstrated by remaining so composed.

However, one wonders how long the camaraderie they enjoyed underground will last. Not least because reports are that they spent their final hours together squabbling over who would have the seemingly dubious honor of being the last to be rescued. And, contrary to most reports, the motive here was not heroic sacrifice, but a calculated desire to bask in the glory, and enjoy the rewards, that would come with being recognized as the man who spent the longest time buried alive.

But their camaraderie is bound to be tested when wives and family members begin exhorting each of them to grasp any media attention that might entail, or lead to, a financial windfall from, among other thing, appearances on talks shows, book deals, and product endorsements. It might have been all for one and one for all when they were trapped, but I suspect it’s going to be every man for himself now that they’re free….

All the same, none of this should detract from the truly heartwarming and life-affirming story these men have all lived to tell.

Vive Chile!

Related commentaries:
Chilean Miners Trapped

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