The 33 trapped Chilean miners are now supported by a staff of about 300 above ground that work in shifts to provide them with everything from food to entertainment.
The miners have divided into three 11 men teams that have schedules to follow. Food, water, clothing … and everything else gets raised and lowered to them through containers that can pass through a small drill hole that connects them to the surface. Everything has to be tightly bundled to fit into the containers.
A 3 man team of miners is permanently stationed at the drill hole to unpack things as they arrive and to send back up whatever needs to be.
Their underground home for at least the next few weeks has now got a high degree of comfort compared to what it was after the collapse when they were cut off from the surface and lived mainly in the dark and dust for 17 days.
They now have a huge team supporting them above ground consisting of cooks, drilling engineers, communications experts, doctors, psychologists, launderers, and of course family members.
They have cots to sleep on in three shifts, breakfast, dinner, and supper is passed down to them. A container from the surface takes about 15 minutes to pass through the drill hole. Air and water is piped down to them through another drill hole.
Cables provide a telephone hook-up and even cable TV. They watch TV about 13 hours a day but officials are careful about what they watch so as not to affect the psychology of survival that’s so important to them. The teams are brought together at meal time to foster the sense of unity.
Plans are slowly being put in place about how to rescue the men when a large bore hole is expected to be completed sometime in November. A one man capsule will be used to pull each miner up to the surface.
After 32 days trapped 2100 feet underground the 33 miners are becoming angry and combative with their rescuers. Some simple things are becoming irritants … like having their mail censored.
Relatives of the men can send letters down to the men but have been told by officials to keep the messages positive and try to keep them in a healthy state of mind. Failure of the officials to deliver all the letters because of their censorship rules is becoming a real bone of contention with the miners, and some of the miner’s relatives are afraid tempers are going to flare up at any time.
A fiber optic video link has been opened up to the miners that allow the relatives to gauge first hand how their loved ones are doing and some thought they looked pretty good but one man said his father was ready to blow up down there. Most just talk about getting out and going back to their normal lives.
In addition to the mail problems the miners want to be able to smoke and drink wine. They also have been driving around in mine vehicles that they’ve been told not to.
NASA experts and others who are monitoring the situation say the miner’s actions are what should be expected after living in isolation and trapped for this length of time.
Trapped Chilean Miners
Trapped in a space the size of a small room over 2000 feet underground since August 5th. 33 miners are now being instructed by their rescuers on how to prevent gangrene in the wet and clammy conditions. A combination of lack of fresh air in the space and high humidity levels have medical people concerned that skin infections which could easily be treated on the surface could lead to gangrene for the trapped men.
The miners have been told to strip naked from time to time so that their skin is not constantly irritated by their wet clothes. Dry clothing will be sent down to the men.
Presently medicine and other supplies are reaching the miners through three small bore holes. Efforts to drill a larger 70mm hole through which a rescue capsule could be lowered to raise the men one at a time are about to commence.
Ways are also being sought to speed up the time it will take to rescue the men from the original estimate of Christmas to now perhaps mid October. It may require the men climbing upwards from the cave they are in now to nearer where the collapse took place that trapped them.
Already it is thought that 5 of the men after spending more than 3 weeks trapped underground might be in a depression. NASA is sending some of their experts to help the men deal with the mental anguish of living in such a small space with so many others. Living conditions on the international space station entail many of the same problems although with a lot more amenities available.