Chileans Work To Ensure Miners Survive

It was a remarkable tale of survival from the depths of a collapsed Chilean mine: After more than two weeks of failed rescue efforts, a video camera threaded deep underground captured the first images of 33 miners, all alive and apparently in good health. The discovery more than 2,000 feet underground sparked jubilant celebrations nationwide on Sunday, but on Monday, it became clear that the miners’ 18-day ordeal was far from over. Government officials said it could now take as long as four months to dig a new tunnel wide enough to lift the miners, one by one, to the surface, meaning that they could remain trapped in the gold-and-copper mine until Christmas. Until then, crews will use a thin shaft as an umbilical cord to keep the miners alive, lowering food, water and medicine, and exchanging information about the rescue efforts and carrying communications from family members. “It will take many weeks for them to reach the light,” Health Minister Jaime Manalich told reporters at the scene in Copiapo, in arid northern Chile, according to The Associated Press. Already, the story of the men of the mine, known as San José, has defied the death tolls and scenes of grief-stricken relatives and grim recovery efforts that often follow mine accidents. News reports from Chile suggested that ventilation shafts had survived the collapse of a tunnel on Aug. 5, allowing enough fresh air to reach the chamber where the miners were trapped. The miners were able to use heavy equipment to provide light and charge the batteries of their head lamps, and they drank water from storage tanks to survive. They stripped off their shirts to endure the stifling heat but did not appear to be threatened by toxic gases such as methane, which can poison miners after cave-ins. Food was in short supply, and government officials told reporters in Chile that the miners may have each lost 20 pounds. Rescue crews were piping tubes containing sugars, water and liquid nutrients to help sustain them while p