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article imageOn the anniversary of the Chilean miners’ ‘message of hope’

By Igor I. Solar     Aug 22, 2011 in World
Atacama - "We are well in the refuge, the 33" said the message written in red ink which announced to the world exactly a year ago that the miners trapped for 17 days at a depth of more than 600 meters in a copper mine in northern Chile were alive.
The 33 miners were trapped by a cave-in on August 5, 2010. Several probes were operating around the clock desperately trying to find them. Hopes to find them alive were starting to fade, but the appearance of that piece of paper on Sunday August 22 changed everything.
Message of the Chilean miners telling the world that they were still alive after 17 days trapped und...
Message of the Chilean miners telling the world that they were still alive after 17 days trapped underground.
The paper emerged inside a plastic bag attached to the narrow tube of a probe that was able to reach the bottom of the San José mine. It was first found by one of the rescue workers who took it to Laurence Golborne, then Minister of Mines (now working as Minister of Public Works) who was in charge of the rescue efforts. Golborne finally relayed the message to the Chilean president Sebastián Piñera who quickly arrived to the mine site near the city of Copiapó, and showed it to the world. "This came today from the bowels of the earth," Piñera said visibly moved while showing the paper. "It's a message from our miners telling us they are alive, that they are united; never had so few words brought so much joy to an entire country," he added nearly overwhelmed by emotion.
Jose Ojeda  45  the seventh of thirty-three miners to leave the mine with the Phoenix rescue capsule...
Jose Ojeda, 45, the seventh of thirty-three miners to leave the mine with the Phoenix rescue capsule after over 2 months of being trapped in San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile early in the morning of October 13, 2010.
Photo by Hugo Infante/Government of Chile
Once the exact location of the miners was determined, a careful operation lasting several weeks followed. The rescue of the miners made headlines worldwide and has been hailed as an example or precision and organization. Following the successful rescue of all miners using a specially designed capsule, the Fenix 2, that carried them, one by one, from the refuge 600 meters underground to the surface and the arms of their loving relatives, the message traveled the world. President Piñera carried the paper with him, along with several rocks from the mine, during a European tour and gave copies of it (and the rocks) to several world leaders.
The message was later returned to its author, miner José Ojeda, one of the most affected by the experience who is still off work under a medical license. It was registered under Ojeda´s name in the Registry of Intellectual Property. Ojeda gave it immediately to the Regional Museum of Atacama where it will remain, along with the rescue capsule, as a historic relic.
For the miners, life has not been easy after the rescue. Some miners are still severely affected by physical and mental traumas. At least half of them are unemployed and would not mind finding another mining job. Most of them have engaged in a lawsuit against the government agency that neglected to enforce safety measures that could have prevented the accident that kept them almost 10 weeks underground and could have caused their death.
More about Chilean miners, Chile, Year anniversary, Jose Ojeda, Copper miners
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