Monday, October 11, 2010

Chilean Miners: The End Is Nigh!

A flag of solidarity at the Chilean mineIf all goes to plan, the first miner from Chile’s San Jose copper-gold mine is expected to reach safety early Wednesday morning (Chilean time), more than two months after the accident that left 33 men trapped 700m underground.
The rescue shaft reached the miners’ cavern on the weekend, and final preparations are now being undertaken. The miners are deciding the order in which they will be hauled up the rescue shaft: several have expressed a desire to be 'tail-end-Charlie', in what’s been called "an admirable show of solidarity." However the real reason they want to be the last one up the shaft…is to be listed in the Guinness World Records for the longest time a miner has been trapped underground! That’s hopefully a record that will remain unbeaten.
Above ground, an estimated 2,000 journalists wait to beam the moment of freedom around the world. Once the miners are top-side, a team of doctors, nurses and psychologists will begin a 48-hour evaluation of their mental and physical health. Only then will they be allowed to return to “the real world”.
Over the next weeks, we'll hear all about their “underground reality” and marvel at their endurance. They in turn will hear how so many people globally have sent prayers and wishes of support for their deliverance. I’m reminded of a similar situation back in 1970, when Apollo 13 nearly didn’t return from its aborted lunar mission. I have a very clear memory of Pope Paul VI, urging all to church to pray for their safety.
In situations like these, it’s easy to dismiss prayer as providing support only to those who are actually doing the praying…that the real success lies in the efforts of the rescuers at the minehead (or back at NASA 40 years ago). Who knows? I guess it all comes down to your own personal beliefs, but there’s alot to be said for the power of positive thinking, and there’ve certainly been millions doing plenty of that over the last nine weeks...

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