Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jonathan Franklin: 33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners

On 5 August 2010, a cave-in occurred at the San José copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapó, Chile. The accident left 33 men trapped 700 metres (2,300 ft) below ground. The miners survived underground for a record 69 days. All 33 were rescued and brought to the surface on 13 October 2010; the first miner emerged from the Fénix 2 rescue capsule at 00:10 CLDT and the last at 21:55 CLDT. After the last trapped miner was winched to the surface, the rescue workers held up a sign stating "Misión cumplida Chile" (English: "Mission accomplished Chile") to the estimated more than 1 billion people watching the rescue on live television around the world. The San José Mine is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Copiapó, in northern Chile. The miners were trapped approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the mine entrance. The mine had a history of instability that had led to previous accidents, including one death. The retrieval of the first miner, Florencio Ávalos, began on Tuesday, 12 October at 23:55 CLDT, with the rescue capsule reaching the surface 16 minutes later. Less than twenty-four hours later, at 21:55 CLDT on 13 October, all 33 miners had been rescued, almost all in good medical condition, and expected to recover fully. Two miners were suffering from silicosis, one of whom also had pneumonia, and others were suffering from dental infections and corneal problems. Three of the rescued miners had immediate surgery under general anesthesia for dental problems. The total cost of the rescue operation was estimated at US$20 million, a third covered by private donations with the rest coming from state-owned mining corporation Codelco and the government itself.

Surviving 2,300 feet below the ground: The miners had a 50 square meters (540 sq ft) emergency shelter with two long benches, but ventilation problems had led them to move out to a tunnel. In addition to the shelter, they had some 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) of galleries in which to move around. The miners used backhoes to dig for underground water sources. Some water was obtained from the radiators of vehicles inside the mineshaft. Food supplies were limited and the men had lost an average of 8 kilograms (18 lb) each. Although the emergency supplies were intended for only two or three days, the miners rationed them and were able to make them last for two weeks, running out just before they were discovered. They consumed "two little spoonfuls of tuna, a sip of milk and a biscuit every 48 hours" and a morsel of peach. The men used truck batteries to power their hard hat lamps for illumination. After his release from the hospital, Mario Sepúlveda said "All 33 trapped miners, practicing a one-man, one-vote democracy, worked together to maintain the mine, look for escape routes and keep up morale." He said, "We knew that if society broke down we would all be doomed. Each day a different person took a bad turn. Every time that happened, we worked as a team to try to keep the morale up." He and some of the older miners helped to support the younger men, he said, but all have taken an oath of silence not to reveal certain details of what occurred down the mine, particularly during the early weeks of desperation. Ávalos said the men kept hope of a survival by pulling together to beat hunger, thirst and desperation underground. “As a group we had to keep faith, we had to keep hope, we had to all believe that we would survive,” he said. Franklin Lobos, a former professional footballer, said he and his fellow miners had acted like a great football team. "We pulled together when things got rough, when there was nothing, when we needed to drink water and there wasn’t any to drink. We pulled together when there was no food, when you just had to eat a teaspoon of tuna because there was nothing else. That really bonded us," he said.

Jonathan Franklin (born 6 September 1964) is an investigative journalist and TV commentator on Latin American politics and news Franklin was born in Manchester, New Hampshire and raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts where he graduated from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Franklin attended Brown University in Providence, R.I. from 1983–1988 and then worked as a news clerk at the New York Times in Manhattan. From 1990 to 1995 Franklin lived in San Francisco and worked as a reporter for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and San Francisco Weekly as well as the Boston Globe. As a reporter for Playboy Magazine in the early 1990s, Franklin interviewed prominent figures in the United States including Patrick Buchanan and Timothy McVeigh. Since 1995 Jonathan Franklin has lived and worked in South America, with a base in Santiago, Chile. His work is regularly published by Playboy, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and hundreds of other magazines around the world. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile with his wife Toty Garfe and his six children - Francisca, Susan, Maciel, Kimberly, Amy and Zoe. Jonathan is the Chile correspondent for the Guardian newspaper Franklin is also co founder of, a news and media agency based in Chile. Through Addictvillage Jonathan has written adventure news stories from Latin America, about topics ranging from U.S deportation of illegal immigrants to hidden cocaine labs in the Colombian jungle to "eco barons" in Chile. In October 2010 Franklin secured a book deal to write a novel about the experience of the miners in the 2010 Copiapo mining accident. He reported extensively from the San Jose mine for The Guardian and The Washington Post. Franklin says "While 2,000 journalists were locked behind police lines, my 'Rescue Team' pass enabled me to experience up close the final six weeks of this miracle rescue. It was my honor to watch the drama unfold in its many moments of beauty and courage and comedy; and to see, first-hand, the profound unity that made this operation succeed"

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