Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Miner Miracle

When the last of the 33 miners was pulled to freedom late last night celebrations erupted in Chile and around the world. The men were all thought dead when the mine caved in on August 5th. But miraculously, 17 days later,  after boring a 2,000 foot hole (the width of a grapefruit) rescuers found them all alive. That tiny hole became their life line as water and food began to be lowered down the long narrow shaft, keeping them alive until a larger hole could be bored to bring them up.

Once that larger hole was completed (in record time) and the final operation began, it took only 22 hours for the Chilean miners to be pulled to the surface and another 2 and half hours for the last of the rescuers to emerged from the copper and gold mine late last night.

I too, like much of the world, have been transfixed on this human drama. And yet, over the last two months my mind has often flashed back to the coverage of other mine disaster rescues – some of which were performed far less proficiently and successfully.

During many, if not all, of these rescue efforts, my mind has often recalled Billy Wilder's 1951 film Ace in the Hole, staring Kirk Douglas. The film is an uncompromising portrait of human nature at its worst and a searing examination of the press, the news it reports and the manner in which it is reported.

Why is it, I wonder,  that a significant number of us are so perversely attracted to these horrific events?


mythopolis said...

Haha...Ace In The Hole is one I guess I missed along the way.

In Chile, the media came from all over the world. It would be interesting to see how the story was covered in different countries. Here, we tend to turn any human drama into a mini-movie, or soap opera.

I always thought there was a subtle commentary in Peewee's Big Adventure. Peewee, a walking cartoon already, goes through one ridiculous scenario after another. In the end his adventure gets picked up by Hollywood, with Pierce Brosnan portraying Peewee.

What happened in Chile, will soon become a book or two, and a movie. Throughout this unfolding story, there was no coverage really of the larger tapestry of the community around this site, and how they were a center of global attention. Neither will there be much coverage of how that has affected their humble lives.

With all that said, I was super impressed by the careful and attentive, and invented actions of the response team that pulled this potentially grim picture to a happier end. I hope it becomes a model to be considered in the inevitable disasters that lie ahead.

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