50th day for trapped miners

A woman holds up a picture of a loved one trapped in the mine.

Today marks the 50th day the Chilean miners have been trapped underground, longer than any group of miners in recorded history.

During these 50 days one has missed the birth of his daughter, several have celebrated their birthdays and the men have also had conversations with the country’s president and NASA. Their survival has launched them to international fame and in the process, over 1000 jobs have been offered to them.

And with a rescue possibly just weeks away, medical teams and psychologists are preparing to brief the trapped Chilean miners on interview techniques and financial training.

Having spent over two months trapped beneath the ground, the 33 miners are nearing the end of their ordeal, which government officials say could take place days – even weeks – earlier before November 1.

Channel 4 are co-producing an hour long documentary about the trapped miners with American company Nova. “In addition to the compelling human story, Nova is interested in giving viewers a more in-depth understanding of the incredible engineering feats and scientific concepts being employed in the rescue operation, as well as the risks involved in these unfolding events,” said Nova exec producer Howard Swartz.

Both the wife and mistress of Yonni Barrios, one of the miners, are awaiting his rescue. Earlier in the week, Barrios had been portrayed as the heroic underground doctor, a bookworm whose dream of working in medicine had finally come half a mile below the surface. The eldest of the trapped men is 63 year old Mario Gomez, who released a letter to his wife and family saying, “I haven’t stopped thinking about all of you for a single moment.”

In 1950 thirteen miners died in Ayrshire after they were trapped underground by a landslide. Another 116 were rescued from Knockshinnoch Castle colliery at New Cumnock. The men became trapped when a field about the size of a football pitch collapsed, sending liquid peat cascading into the mine and blocking the way out.

The Chilean miners became trapped on 5 August after the main access tunnel collapsed, leaving them 4.5 miles underground in a space the size of a small flat.