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article imageOp-Ed: 17 days buried alive

By Alexander Baron     Aug 13, 2011 in World
Last year, a group of miners in Chile were trapped underground for 69 days before being rescued; they spent the first 17 alone feared dead, and fearing they would never see daylight again.
The inspirational story of the Chilean miners must be unique in human history. Not because they set a record for the longest time spent trapped underground, but because this was a tale featuring 33 heroes, a supporting cast of millons, and no villains.
The story is too well known to require extensive documenting here; half a dozen different books about “Los 33” are currently available on Amazon, and doubtless more will be written in the years to come. This BBC documentary covers the first 17 days, when the men were trapped, in virtual darkness and with little food; among other things, the mining company had not ensured the legal requirement of emergency rations were in place.
When the men were freed, they were found to be in surprisingly good physical and mental health; the consensus appears to be that this was because they were able to build a community. They appear hardly to have had a cross word, much less come to blows, indeed, about the only thing they argued over was the “right” to be the last man out when they were finally rescued.
Inspirational though their story is, it is a sad indictment of British society that at this time, people, especially the young, have been rioting on the streets and even killing people because they have – we are told – given up hope. These men never gave up hope; would any denizen of Tottenham, Hackney or Birmingham’s inner city willingly have changed places with one of them?
The documentary is currently available on BBC iplayer; if you can’t receive it, or miss it, look out for it and similar documentaries on YouTube.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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