Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


120 days in the hole
August 24, 2010 8:59 AM   Subscribe

After 17 days, 33 Chilean miners have been found alive 2,300 vertical feet underground in a gold and copper mine. Now the only thing left to do is get them out safely -- in about four months.
posted by Gilbert (115 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Horrifying.
posted by ColdChef at 9:02 AM on August 24, 2010


Gah. I've been thinking about these guys, and imagining nearly three weeks of this existence, but I hadn't heard this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:04 AM on August 24, 2010


It's going to turn into lord of the flies down there, God help them.
posted by nomadicink at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what's probably the worst thing about being stuck in a pitch-black tiny little space 2300 feet underground for four months with 32 other dudes?

There's no bathroom.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Heard this on NPR yesterday. First thing i though of after hearing they were OK but won't be rescued for 4 months, was I hope they get paid for every minute of that time.
posted by Mcable at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2010 [16 favorites]


33 men in approximately 540 square feet of space. Fuck.
posted by cavalier at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2010


I was wondering if someone was going to post about this. I think that now that they have access to the miners, physical needs can be met, so no problems there. The real problem is the psychological issues with remaining underground that long, waiting and worrying and not having anything to do.
posted by Fizz at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2010


Looking at the graphic here, I don't understand why this will take so long to clear.
posted by ColdChef at 9:12 AM on August 24, 2010


As en la Manga.

(Seriously, though. I hope these guys make it out. Four months underground? Shit. How many will be sane--let alone alive--in December?)
posted by John of Michigan at 9:12 AM on August 24, 2010


And they don't even get board games to pass the time.
posted by jeather at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2010


Trapped Chile miners survived 18 days underground on pieces of tuna and milk
posted by ColdChef at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2010


...and not having anything to do.

I bet they'll find something to do. The real question is how many, if any, will still be alive when rescue hole is drilled.
posted by nomadicink at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2010


That article says they haven't been told how long it will take. I understand why this would be, but if I was one of those miners thinking "we'll be out soon!" I would be absurdly furious that they didn't tell me.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:15 AM on August 24, 2010


Oh, and it seems like they haven't been told about how long it will take them to be rescued. That's both good and bad.
posted by ColdChef at 9:16 AM on August 24, 2010


Jinx.
posted by ColdChef at 9:16 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and it seems like they haven't been told about how long it will take them to be rescued. That's both good and bad.

Either way is going to be dangerous. You tell them how long, you risk the lose of hope, you might piss them off. You don't tell them and they're going to become upset that they're being lied to and wondering if anyone really cares or is trying to help them.
posted by Fizz at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2010


The real question is how many, if any, will still be alive when rescue hole is drilled.

Well, here's the thing: if one of them dies, they'll all likely die. Infection spreads quickly, and I can tell you that decomposition (especially in 97 degrees) starts to take place within MINUTES of death.
posted by ColdChef at 9:18 AM on August 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


"The miners have not been told how long they are going to have to wait..."

So weird for the whole world to know more about their situation than they do.
posted by hermitosis at 9:18 AM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


...decomposition (especially in 97 degrees) starts to take place within MINUTES of death.

What does this mean, exactly? I mean, decomposition is taking place NOW, but my body is repairing it.

I guess it doesn't really matter how long it would take for a dead body to become dangerous. It's certainly less than 4 months.
posted by DU at 9:20 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


What happens if one of them dies?
posted by hermitosis at 9:20 AM on August 24, 2010


Wow, I am like a minute behind ColdChef on everything today!
posted by hermitosis at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Infection spreads quickly, and I can tell you that decomposition (especially in 97 degrees) starts to take place within MINUTES of death.

Shit, they don't have a chance then. That's going to nightmarishly awful.

I'm not sure why they dig a hole quicker, but of course I know nothing about drilling. Hopefully they make a hole quicker than that, I'm thinking these guys only have weeks.
posted by nomadicink at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2010


I don't have a good feeling about this. So many ways that it could go wrong.
posted by amro at 9:22 AM on August 24, 2010


The end of this video has been on my mind since yesterday.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:24 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


What does this mean, exactly? I mean, decomposition is taking place NOW, but my body is repairing it.

Well...exactly. Your body is refreshing itself constantly. But once that stops, the rotting starts immediately. The bowels release, the blood cools, the eyes and mouth open to bacteria. The smell begins right away. I picked up a dead man recently who had been alone in a 77 degree house under a fan for only 24 hours or so, and the smell was nearly unbearable. Putrifying human flesh is ungodly and can cause uncontrollable physical responses, including vomiting, loss of your own body's functions, and blacking out. It's not pretty.
posted by ColdChef at 9:26 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Infection spreads quickly, and I can tell you that decomposition (especially in 97 degrees) starts to take place within MINUTES of death.

If they could somehow bury the body/bodies, then maybe they would be okay. But what are the chances that any of those miners have any experience digging?
posted by flarbuse at 9:27 AM on August 24, 2010 [17 favorites]


Putrifying human flesh is ungodly and can cause uncontrollable physical responses, including vomiting, loss of your own body's functions, and blacking out.

And that's just if the person stays dead.
posted by hermitosis at 9:28 AM on August 24, 2010 [37 favorites]


If they could somehow bury the body/bodies, then maybe they would be okay. But what are the chances that any of those miners have any experience digging?

They are surrounded by rock, no?
posted by amro at 9:29 AM on August 24, 2010


But what are the chances that any of those miners have any experience digging?

Hah. You make a good point, but I doubt that any of them would have the strength to dig the hole. Not to mention that there's literally nowhere to go.
posted by ColdChef at 9:30 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to the BBC, emergency drilling equipment is being brought in from Australia and the United States.
posted by ColdChef at 9:31 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, my tears held off until I read this:
Singing the national anthem in a full-throated chorus, 33 miners trapped deep underground thanked their rescuers and settled in for a long wait until a tunnel wide enough to pull them out can be carved through a half-mile of solid rock.
posted by ColdChef at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2010


But what are the chances that any of those miners have any experience digging?

Do they have tools to dig with? Seems silly, but were they really using shovels in the mine or were they using heavier equipment that they couldn't carry with them to the emergency space? Also, they're starving and fatigued.
posted by desjardins at 9:39 AM on August 24, 2010


The expert on the BBC news essentially said they probably be all right, you have to be hard bastard to do that job in the first place and they'll support each other
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:39 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Never mind, I guess they have a backhoe.
posted by desjardins at 9:40 AM on August 24, 2010


Seriously, people, THINK OF THE POOP.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:41 AM on August 24, 2010


THINK OF THE POOP

I'm guessing that after three weeks of small bites of tuna and milk, plus the glucose that they're now on...not a lot of solid turds being formed.
posted by ColdChef at 9:43 AM on August 24, 2010


Wow, I am like a minute behind ColdChef on everything today!
posted by hermitosis at 10:21 AM on August 24 [1 favorite +] [!]


I understand the pressure you're feeling, but please don't resort to blood doping or amphetamines to bridge that gap, or a pharmaceutical arms race could ensue on Metafilter that would ensure its eventual destruction.
posted by mecran01 at 9:43 AM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


my family tree is populated by miners, and I'll tell you that those who go in the hole can take it, and I'm sure these guys will take it. It's going to be hell but they'll take it. Many of us wouldn't, but they do it everyday. I'm sure they're already trying to find a way to be able to smoke in the refuge.
posted by valdesm at 9:44 AM on August 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is horrifying on so many levels... what if somebody gets a toothache or other acute ailment? What if somebody becomes psychotic (very likely)? What happens when the hallucinations start?

At least the folks in the Chinese traffic jam can see the sun and breathe fresh air. Damn.

I need to go outside and take a walk now. Right now.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:44 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It must be really quiet and peaceful down there.
posted by Flashman at 9:45 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm curious how mining this deep occurs to start with. How do the miners get down there to start with? Do they take some sort of elevator or mine truck or something down 2300 ft everyday, and come out every night? Or do they usually go down for a few days at a time?

Also, mining seems to be something robots would be good at.
posted by bluefly at 9:45 AM on August 24, 2010


I can't help but wonder whether, if it was the CEO, some shareholders, or the President's family down there (i.e., someone whose life is worth more than 30 miners), they'd find some way to get them out in considerably less time than four months.
posted by acb at 9:47 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]



In a kinder world, the mining company would take responsibility and pay these guys and their families out big time.
In reality... well there wasn't much mention of that in the articles.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:53 AM on August 24, 2010


Reddit AMA w/ a Chilean mining engineer.
posted by effugas at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


33 men in approximately 540 square feet of space. Fuck.

540 square feet for 33 people isn't that bad. That's the equivalent of being trapped in a normal-sized elevator by yourself. Definitely terrible, but not stacked-one-atop-the-other terrible.

Now, cubic feet is a whole 'nother issue!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:56 AM on August 24, 2010


stagger lee, says here that the impresario has shelled out 8 thousand euros (5 million pesos) per miner to the miner's families; and he calls out for donations from companies and individuals, with a goal of a million dollars per miner.
posted by valdesm at 9:58 AM on August 24, 2010


What does this mean, exactly? I mean, decomposition is taking place NOW, but my body is repairing it.

Stages of Decomposition - (warning: nsf-lunch but otherwise very clinical)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:00 AM on August 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm getting flashbacks to the Kursk incident (previously on mefi). The miners seem to have a much better chance at getting out alive, and they have some contact with the outside, but Christ. Four months?

I would make a terrible miner or submariner.
posted by rtha at 10:01 AM on August 24, 2010


thanks for posting that Q&A with the mining engineer effugas. He said it is probably 100% humidity down there. I can't imagine how awful it would be. I have trouble breathing at high humidity.
posted by bluefly at 10:01 AM on August 24, 2010


540 square feet for 33 people isn't that bad. That's the equivalent of being trapped in a normal-sized elevator by yourself. Definitely terrible, but not stacked-one-atop-the-other terrible.

If it were square, they would have room 23 ft on a side. Each person has 16 sqft, which is a pretty small elevator. Closer to an airplane bathroom. And speaking of bathrooms, they can't use all the space they have so they really each have a lot less.
posted by DU at 10:03 AM on August 24, 2010


I took the time this morning to read a paper-based article in-depth.

They are not cramped for space, they are just keeping together in the 'refuge' space - they actually have well over a kilometer of uncollapsed tunnel they can use - so they have room to dispose of waste.

But still, I can think of only a very few co-workers who I would want to be trapped with for 4 months.
posted by jkaczor at 10:03 AM on August 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


Seriously, people, THINK OF THE POOP.

This is what really drove home the horror for me when I was watching this on CNN. It doesn't help that I'm reading Blindness right now - I have some really authentic imagery going on in my head.
posted by something something at 10:05 AM on August 24, 2010


At least Chile wants the help it can get for this from other countries willing to offer it and made moves nearly instantly to, in fact, get it, unlike in the Kursk incident.
posted by zizzle at 10:08 AM on August 24, 2010


33 men in approximately 540 square feet of space. Fuck.

Oh, to merge those sentences...!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:10 AM on August 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


True dat, zizzle. I'm glad there are some governments out there who (at least sometimes) put their peoples' needs ahead of their own "No we can do it all by ourselves!" pride. To my mind, asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength.
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm curious how mining this deep occurs to start with. How do the miners get down there to start with? Do they take some sort of elevator or mine truck or something down 2300 ft everyday, and come out every night? Or do they usually go down for a few days at a time?

Everything I know about mining (which is awfully close to nil) comes from South Wales mines, but they essentially use[d] an elevator to go down the pit. Up and down every day, although depths varied. The Big Pit is 300 feet, though, so I don't know how well such a thing scales.

Also, mining seems to be something robots would be good at.

I fully agree. However, what industry will come in to replace mining, when we finally stop making humans do this horrible, dangerous job? See also: Wales, large parts of Northern England, central PA, etc...
posted by kalimac at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2010


Also, mining seems to be something robots would be good at.

Scab!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't even want to try to imagine how absolutely claustrophobically horrible that experience would be. But I would love it if, when they are all safely evacuated, all of them became pilots.

When asked why, one of them would reply, "Well, when you've spent nearly five months trapped deep underground with millions of tons of rock in every direction, you realize that going forward, you sort of want a couple of thousand feet of empty space around you at all times."
posted by quin at 10:16 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would love it if, when they are all safely evacuated, all of them became pilots.

When asked why, one of them would reply, "Well, when you've spent nearly five months trapped deep underground in a cramped little space with a bunch of other people who fear for their lives, you realize that going forward, you sort of want to spend a lot of time in a cramped little space with a bunch of other people who fear for their lives in the sky."

posted by Sys Rq at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


To the rescue!

This is sad and humor is my only defense.
posted by Eideteker at 10:24 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ditto.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:33 AM on August 24, 2010


From the Reddit AMA:
Before they were found, they managed to excavate a small canal for fresh water and have modified a small truck engine to supply electricity.
I don't know how reliable this source is, but it sounds like these guys are actually in pretty good shape. The important thing is to prevent further mine collapses.
posted by muddgirl at 11:04 AM on August 24, 2010


Sociologists are salivating as we speak.
posted by elder18 at 11:07 AM on August 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


But still, I can think of only a very few co-workers who I would want to be trapped with for 4 months.

4 months trapped in a 540 square foot space with my closest friends doesn't sound great to me either, for that matter.
posted by lullaby at 11:10 AM on August 24, 2010


Does anyone know who the mining company is? The direct, and 'end' owners?

(Just curious, have a hunch...)
posted by jkaczor at 11:25 AM on August 24, 2010


jkaczor: "Does anyone know who the mining company is? The direct, and 'end' owners?

(Just curious, have a hunch...)
"

Looks like the owner is San Esteban Mining Company (Campañia Minera San Esteban), which according to this article used to be 40% owned by Cobre Mining Co, which was in turn part of Aurex Resources.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2010


I'd hate to be the lone, gay man trapped down there. Or would I?
posted by PigAlien at 11:38 AM on August 24, 2010


My worst nightmare = this
posted by dry white toast at 11:39 AM on August 24, 2010


Regarding waste and potential dead bodies, couldn't they send down a couple of body bags through the hole they used for the camera? Or some lime or equivalent chemical? I've spent time in very hot places in the desert where the toilet is a 50 gallon drum and a sack of lime, you scoop a little bit of lime on your shit and it does not smell. Dead animals get covered in lime too until they can be removed.

Also, this would be the time to send down some pills, the happy pills that make time just go away.
posted by dirty lies at 11:41 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are not cramped for space, they are just keeping together in the 'refuge' space - they actually have well over a kilometer of uncollapsed tunnel they can use - so they have room to dispose of waste.

Ok, now I'm optimistic again.
posted by chundo at 11:45 AM on August 24, 2010


Maybe somebody to blow bong hits down that hole on a regular basis, dirty lies... I selflessly volunteer myself for this job.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:48 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, how is this worse than spending 4 months in a crappy prison? for example. Guantamo
posted by dirty lies at 11:56 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good question, Dirty Lies. I would think the fact that you're not being intentionally tortured and have some room to move around and some camaraderie would certainly be better than being in prison. I have no idea about Guantanamo, but in regular prisons, most prisoners get to see real daylight and have windows that view the sky. On the other hand, people who survived Guantanamo may have PTSD... Not exactly fun!
posted by PigAlien at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2010


It must be really quiet and peaceful down there.

You and I are obviously having the same week.
posted by sonika at 12:36 PM on August 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


jeather: And they don't even get board games to pass the time.

So I'm guessing a WoW lan party is out of the question?
posted by Fizz at 12:43 PM on August 24, 2010


To counteract this boredom, Mr Feickert believes the miners need to organise themselves rotas for performing tasks and chores - everything from clearing rubble that comes through the shaft to cleaning.

OK, now I am picturing them wielding dusters: Hey you! You missed a spot.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:52 PM on August 24, 2010


http://abcnews.go.com/International/trapped-chilean-miners-request-toothbrushes/story?id=11466546
To rescue the trapped miners, workers will try to dig a wider 27-inch shaft directly to the men. The men would be raised up one at a time. Two of the miners, however, are obese and it's not clear how they will fit. Rescuers hope the men will lose weight in the mine to fit through the hole.
posted by Catfry at 1:20 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


bluefly: "Also, mining seems to be something robots would be good at."

My main objection to coal comes from having going down in a coal mine. That was only about 300 feet down, but I still have the occasional nightmare. And that was a tourist mine.

My gut twists every time I see anything about those miners.
posted by QIbHom at 1:23 PM on August 24, 2010


That ABC News story is pretty helpful. From there:
The shelter is 32.8 feet by 13.1 feet, too small and too poorly ventilated for the men to sleep there. They've been sleeping in other parts of the mine. There is no toilet and so the men are using a tunnel further away.

...
Among the miners are one diabetic and one man suffering from hypertension. Workers sent medicine to both of the men.


It also refers to the mine having a dirt floor. So it looks like the obvious sanitation issue, as well as the dead-body issue, might be less of a problem than anticipated.

Still, I don't envy them their situation, and I hope they emerge, happy and healthy, to collect revenues from the inevitable book and adaptations for decades to come.
posted by MrVisible at 1:27 PM on August 24, 2010


Thanks specialagentwebb - ok, I feel even more hopeful now that I know it isn't owne by whom I thought it was.
posted by jkaczor at 1:30 PM on August 24, 2010


I'm curious how mining this deep occurs to start with. How do the miners get down there to start with? Do they take some sort of elevator or mine truck or something down 2300 ft everyday, and come out every night? Or do they usually go down for a few days at a time?

I work in an underground gold mine, and am a member of the mine rescue team. This mine, like the one I work in, is accessed by a long decline - essentially a road that corkscrews downwards, with access roads heading off at particular depths to link the main decline to the ore body. They would drive down every morning (the road is big enough for a truck, or for two utes to pass side by side) and back out again at the end of the day. I worked in a place that went to about 700 m depth, and it was a 30-45 minute drive from the bottom to the top. I don't know of anywhere that requires miners to remain underground for days at a time.

Some mines have elevators, but it doesn't look like that's the case here.

I don't know many of the details, but from what I've read it looks like the collapse has shut off the main decline a few hundreds metres (both vertically and laterally) from the trapped miners. If it was a small collapse they could remove the rock in the way, stitch up the roof with steel mesh, and carry on through. The fact that they are predicting 4 months means the collapse was so big that they believe removing the fallen rock will simply result in more falling in on top of it.

If that's the case then the next plan, I imagine, would be to drive a new tunnel from above the blockage to the closest part of the mine that has access to the trapped guys. I don't know what kind of equipment they have there, but in my mine we can proceed at about 3 m every 18 hours if we're going full steam ahead. If the ground conditions are poor (that is, the rock isn't very competent) then we need to put up more ground support, so each 3 m cut takes even longer. Also, it appears that these guys are in a part of the mine that has already been extensively mined. This means that they are either surrounded by giant open stopes (huge unsupported areas that no one ever goes in, and that no rescue attempt will go near) or backfilled stopes (huge areas filled in with loose rock that can't be mined through). I imagine this is why they can't take a quick short cut around the blockages, and need to drive a much longer tunnel to reach the men.

As for digging graves, these guys are sitting on solid rock. The only way they have of digging is drilling holes and filling them with explosives. I don't think that's going to happen.

Also, mining seems to be something robots would be good at.

I'm sure it'll happen in time, but not for a while. A robot could drill a hole where you told it to, but you would have to stand next to it to tell it which one to drill. A robot could pick up loads of ore and dump them in a truck, but you would have to stand next to it telling it which rock is alright to take and which isn't. Parts of the process are automated at the moment - guys can sit in a car hundreds of metres away and drive a giant front-end loader with a joystick and a couple of tv screens - but much of the work requires human input.


These guys are in for a rough few months, but they have a good shot. They've got water and oxygen, which are the critical things. They have access to the outside world, which means they can get food and stay sane. They have enough space to move around and stay fit, and to keep their waste away from where they eat. It's a dark and scary place down there, but you get used to it. These guys are as used to being underground as you are to being in your office. Also, there's quite a strong fraternity among miners - they can be rough as guts, but they take care of each other. I'm heading underground as soon as I finish writing this, and I know that if this were to happen here, people would stick together.
posted by twirlypen at 1:38 PM on August 24, 2010 [216 favorites]


To rescue the trapped miners, workers will try to dig a wider 27-inch shaft directly to the men. The men would be raised up one at a time. Two of the miners, however, are obese and it's not clear how they will fit. Rescuers hope the men will lose weight in the mine to fit through the hole.

That's some incentive to lose weight I guess. 27 inches is a small fucking hole, though.
posted by graventy at 1:51 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dead animals get covered in lime too until they can be removed.

Isn't this what Snoop and Chris were doing in S.4 of The Wire, with the bodies in the vacant rowhouses?
posted by mannequito at 2:47 PM on August 24, 2010


Yes. Which is why you should have a really good excuse if you drive around with a bucket of quicklime, a lantern, some plastic sheeting and a powder actuated nailgun in your trunk.
posted by quin at 3:06 PM on August 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Because the group is so large, there is a danger that cliques might be formed over the distribution of desirable things, such as food, reading materials or access to cellphones. It’s almost certain that a leader will emerge within the group; if the history of expeditions is any indicator, it’s also possible that an overthrow attempt will be staged.

Reminds me of Heart of the Comet, by Gregory Benford and David Brin.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:06 PM on August 24, 2010


That's some incentive to lose weight I guess. 27 inches is a small fucking hole, though.

No kidding! First thing I did when I read that was pulled out a ruler and looked at how big around a 27 inch circular hole would be. Not that big!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:24 PM on August 24, 2010


You can see some images of the tiny rescue capsule used in the Quecreek coal mine rescue in Pennsylvania back in 2002. It is a very tight fit. In Chile, think about being dragged up a 27-inch shaft a half mile long for an hour.
posted by JackFlash at 5:49 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mcable: "Heard this on NPR yesterday. First thing i though of after hearing they were OK but won't be rescued for 4 months, was I hope they get paid for every minute of that time."

Haha. Good one.

They only paid the salaries for the month of August after this whole thing happened and public opinion was turning on them. One of the owners (Alejandro Bohn) of the mine has already said that it's going to be hard to continue paying the 33 (uninsured) miners trapped and their co-workers because they are facing bankruptcy and that they'll need to ask for financial assistance from the government to pay the miners their salary for September.

Of course, they do have money for a complete team of laywers.
posted by Memo at 5:55 PM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd hate to be the lone, gay man trapped down there. Or would I?

Jackass. Begone, do not foul us.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:09 PM on August 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


> rescue capsule

Oh fuck me fuck me fuck me fuck me I cannot even look at thumbnail images of that much less zoom in or contemplate seeing one in real life for that matter the very thought of being trapped in one for five minutes much less an hour with the dark and the scraping fuck me fuck me fuck me has anyone got a valium?
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:34 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Can you imagine? After 30 years of marriage we will start sending each other love letters again"

Chilean health officials are seeking advice from Nasa on how the 33 miners trapped underground can remain sane and healthy while rescue efforts continue.

posted by Rumple at 6:57 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I imagine if you've been stuck underground for four months, a tiny cage in a 27 inch hole would look like heaven.

As part of my rescue training I've had to climb out of the mine through escapeways ('emergency escape route' in the diagram in the second article). These are vertical ladders going up through a hole about a metre across. Not nearly as tight as 27 inches, but still quite close. Again though - these guys are completely familiar with their surroundings, and the dark or the confined space probably aren't as problematic as they may seem to people used to open spaces. I imagine it will be the psychological aspect of their situation, rather than the physical, that will be the hardest to deal with.

Just for some background: this is a refuge chamber, which will be similar to what they have. As has been mentioned above, they will have large areas of (unlit, poorly ventilated, hot and humid) the mine to spread out in, but I imagine they will be spending most of their time in or around the refuge chamber. This is the inside of one very similar to what we have at work -they are quite clinical, austere places. Nothing too comfortable about them.
posted by twirlypen at 6:57 PM on August 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Which is why you should have a really good excuse if you drive around with a bucket of quicklime, a lantern, some plastic sheeting and a powder actuated nailgun in your trunk.

I do......I do.
posted by nevercalm at 7:31 PM on August 24, 2010


Which is why you should have a really good excuse if you drive around with a bucket of quicklime, a lantern, some plastic sheeting and a powder actuated nailgun in your trunk.

Previously on Metafilter...
posted by schmod at 8:20 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Yes. Which is why you should have a really good excuse if you drive around with a bucket of quicklime, a lantern, some plastic sheeting and a powder actuated nailgun in your trunk."

I'm a stucco installer who likes to work nights?

"No kidding! First thing I did when I read that was pulled out a ruler and looked at how big around a 27 inch circular hole would be. Not that big!"

Isn't it 27 inches across? Not a walk in the park but not skin scraping for the average person. I've ascended a ladder several stories high hoisting a tool box in a safety cage about that size and I've only ever been called Tiny ironically. 27 inches is the minimum clear diameter permitted by OSHA of some ladder wells or cages.

What would give me the heebie geebies is the thought of the cable snapping a few feet from the top and the splat I'd make if I free falled several hundred metres.
posted by Mitheral at 9:56 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, mining seems to be something robots would be good at.


Robots, or an entire workforce of obsolete holographic doctors.

Seriously though, yikes!
posted by yellowbinder at 11:49 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which is why you should have a really good excuse if you drive around with a bucket of quicklime, a lantern, some plastic sheeting and a powder actuated nailgun in your trunk.

I tell them I belong to the London branch of the Re-Ups, the Wire re-enactment society. We did The Clean-Up of Hamsterdam in the docklands this July and run a Bunk and McNulty's Train Track Pub Crawl on the first Friday of every month. Sheeeeeit.
posted by permafrost at 8:19 AM on August 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


What would give me the heebie geebies is the thought of the cable snapping a few feet from the top and the splat I'd make if I free falled several hundred metres.

Well, then that narrow diameter comes in handy (especially for someone named "Tiny"), as you notice the cable giving and wedge yourself in the hole with your back one one side and legs in the other. Then, simply work your way up! Don't look down
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 2:15 PM on August 25, 2010


I see here that they are being sent some items for comfort, like playing cards, a flag and a crucifix to make a shrine with. I hope that, among the very serious and hard-working professionals keeping them alive at the top of the mountain, there is one person who is just unserious enough to slip them some liquor.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:31 PM on August 25, 2010


I wonder if they can slide down electronics (PSP, DS, iPod Touch), a power strip and a wifi router on a network cable? That might take the edge off, as long as there are enough to go around!
posted by dickasso at 4:01 AM on August 26, 2010


Isn't it 27 inches across? Not a walk in the park but not skin scraping for the average person.

Maybe not, but think about those slides at the water park- they're wider than that, yes? Now think about being pulled up a tube narrower than that for, oh, 4 miles or so. TERRIFYING.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:34 AM on August 26, 2010


Actually, they're just a half mile down, so not that bad, but yeah it's still OMG.
posted by nomadicink at 7:59 AM on August 26, 2010


if one of them dies, they'll all likely die.

ColdChef, I certainly defer to you on the repulsion factor of dealing with decaying bodies, but the "dead bodies spread disease" thing, is, as I understand it, somewhat mythological. Living disease carriers are much more likely to spread infection, and the bacteria that contribute to decomposition do not, generally speaking infect the living according to disaster experts. I imagine this issue would be complicated by the cramped conditions, but I can't see that context ensuring death.
posted by serazin at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if they can slide down electronics (PSP, DS, iPod Touch), a power strip and a wifi router on a network cable?

This comment is in a good spirit but ironic, given the deplorable conditions facing miners who labor for electronics industries.
posted by serazin at 10:05 AM on August 26, 2010


(the road is big enough for a truck, or for two utes to pass side by side)

Two utes?
posted by straw man special at 11:11 AM on August 26, 2010


Two utes?

I think that means two utility vehicles.
Unless twirlypen is secretly Joe Pesci, then it could also mean two youths.
posted by tresbizzare at 11:41 AM on August 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, I realised afterwards that it may have been confusing.

Truck = big dump truck, carries 30 tonnes of rock.

Ute = utility vehicle = 'truck' in the US (I think).
posted by twirlypen at 1:19 PM on August 26, 2010


This comment is in a good spirit but ironic, given the deplorable conditions facing miners who labor for electronics industries.

And, I suppose, doubly so given medium in which we're discussing it!

Global capitalism probably won't be fixed by Christmas.
posted by dickasso at 3:31 PM on August 26, 2010


One of the owners (Alejandro Bohn) of the mine has already said that it's going to be hard to continue paying the 33 (uninsured) miners trapped and their co-workers because they are facing bankruptcy and that they'll need to ask for financial assistance from the government to pay the miners their salary for September.

The government quickly responded with a public 'fuck you', saying they would not only not bail out the owners, but would sue them to recover the rescue costs.

Also, the millionaire who is getting money for the miners is not this mine's owner, but rather of a neraby mine, and is well known for making large, well publicized donations to popular causes.

I'm in Chile, and the miners are pretty much all the news and people-on-the-street can talk about. They're already pre-producoing a movie called "Los 33", even before knowing how it ends.

One nice little tidbit: they held off on telling the families that their relatives were safe for hours, because they were waiting for the President to fly in so he could tell them in fornt of the TV cameras.
posted by signal at 6:54 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


And they don't even get board games to pass the time.

Apparently they are getting dominoes and cards to play. Additional suggestions have been made here.
posted by craniac at 11:19 AM on August 28, 2010


http://kotaku.com/5625302/trapped-chilean-miners-get-psps
posted by dickasso at 6:15 AM on August 30, 2010


I hope they're able to charge the batteries or having the PSP mocking you with its existence, but you can't turn it on, will be worse than no PSP at all. (They imply that they will have power cords... I'm hoping that's true!)
posted by sonika at 6:18 AM on August 30, 2010


"Ute = utility vehicle = 'truck' in the US (I think)."

There is a bit of regional and occupational variation in Canada and the US. Utility vehicle sounds weird and would most likely refer to a SUV/Sport Utility Vehicle IE: Range Rover/Ford Bronco/classic Jeep. The Ute maps better to pickup, half ton, light truck or, somewhat confusingly, just truck. Confusingly because truck can also mean heavy truck or road tractor.
posted by Mitheral at 9:33 PM on August 30, 2010


In Australian automotive parlance, a 'Ute' always means any vehicle with a cabin (2 or 4 door) and a tray. Probably closest in definition to a 'Pickup Truck'. Notably, in Australia the largest ute you would expect to see would be an F250, and they're exceptionally rare and large. Most are just the same size as a sedan.

Google Images has many examples

You would expect to see mostly utes in the parking lot of a building site, or a mine site, in Australia.
posted by Jerub at 7:41 PM on August 31, 2010


Miner's wife meets his mistress.

This impressed me: Their rations include yogurt and cereal for breakfast, chicken sandwiches for lunch and jam sandwiches for dinner. They each have tea and five liters of water daily. Though, the jam sandwiches sound a bit light.

I wonder how many of them are going to retire after this incident?
posted by knile at 9:04 AM on September 2, 2010


« Older Quicksand is deeper than I knew....  |  In addition to being a five te... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments