Video: The television event of a lifetime

posted at 11:14 am on October 13, 2010 by Allahpundit

No joke. The World Cup Final drew 700 million viewers globally. The Chilean miner rescue? A cool bil. Although, in fairness, the miner rescue had the advantage of not being crushingly boring. We’re grading you on a curve, FIFA!

Seriously, it’s a television spectacle for the ages. For the one or two of you reading this who haven’t watched yet, not only do they have cameras trained on the escape hole at the surface to capture the scene as the miners emerge, they’ve got one set up in the underground chamber where the last of the 33 are huddled, waiting patiently for their turn to ride to freedom after two months in the dungeon. Mmmmmm, that’s good drama. And beneath the drama, of course, lies wonder. Wonder at the engineering feat that was required to bring them up safely (NASA consulted on the mission, providing a special liquid diet to keep the men from vomiting during the ascent); wonder at the physical ordeal of subsisting on two spoonfuls of tuna and a sip of milk every 48 hours for 17 days amid temperatures exceeding 90 degrees; and of course wonder at the fact that, given the psychological dynamics, it didn’t end up turning into “Lord of the Flies” down there. Sounds like it was headed that way early on:

Five of the 33 trapped Chilean miners formed a breakaway group after becoming isolated from the rest because of their status as “subcontracted workers”, according to reports.

Although the 33 have presented a display of unity since being discovered alive, in the early days, some of the men were allegedly “treated as second class citizens within the refuge”, according to a source within the rescue team who had spoken to Chilean national newspaper El Mercurio.

“Actually they were marginalised and had set up camp in another part of the mine, away from the rest of the group”, the source said.

Said one miner’s wife, “Things went on down there which will never be spoken of.” She’s not kidding: Apparently they’ve made a pact to turn down interviews and instead write a book together, with mucho cashing-in opportunities to follow. (“If we do this properly we won’t have to work for the rest of our lives.”) I’ll be first on line to buy it to find out how they maintained their discipline in rationing such small amounts of food during that first 17 days when they didn’t know if they’d be rescued. I can imagine doing that for a week or so, but as one week turns into two and you’re starving and desperate, discipline is bound to break down — or not, apparently. I wonder how much longer they could have gone before this turned into a very different type of South American survival story.

The best article I’ve read about the rescue is MSNBC’s, so if you can spare five minutes, dive into that. Here’s my favorite part, about the second man up:

Book and movie deals are pending, along with job offers. Previously unimaginable riches await a simple signature for those with savvy.

Sepulveda appeared well aware of his budding options. His performance exiting from the shaft appeared to confirm what many Chileans thought when they saw his engaging performances in videos sent up from below — that he could have a future as a TV personality.

And here’s the video of Sepulveda, handing out rocks from the mine as “gifts” and looking like he’s ready to head straight to the club. Fiesta for-evah!

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Authorities at Camp Hope have had to deal with a rush of women coming forward claiming to be first in the Chilean miners’ affections in order to receive government handouts.

At least five wives have been forced to come face to face with mistresses whose existence was kept from them by their husbands, who have been trapped more than 2,300ft below since a cave in on August 5.

One miner has four women fighting over him in an effort to claim compensation offered to the families of those facing between three to four months underground until a rescue shaft can reach them.

Government officials are considering asking the 33 trapped miners to name those they want to claim the benefits entitled to them in a bid to solve problems on the surface.

“There has been a lot of conflict between women,” admitted Marta Flores a Red Cross worker at the makeshift camp where relatives wait for news of their loved ones.

“We had a big bust up in the canteen tent when a wife came across a woman who claimed to be her husband’s lover – we had to step in and pull them apart before things got physical.” At stake are welfare packages issued to the families of the trapped miners as well as future compensation claims that could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

“Unfortunately the conflict stems from money issues,” said Mrs Flores. “Some of the men have children from numerous women and all of them have arrived here to stake their claim. I’ve met five families in this situation but I’m sure there are more.” Some women turned up at the camp to discover that their partners already had a wife and children who they knew nothing about.

“Those that truly love their men have slipped away quietly not wanting to cause any more pain to the families but others are putting up a fight.” Special welfare officers trained in marital issues have been brought in to provide help to women faced with their husband’s infidelity.

One miner, who has not been named, has a first wife he never divorced, his live-in partner, a mother of a child he had several years ago, and a woman who claims to be his current girlfriend all visiting the camp.

“It’s a logistical nightmare trying to keep them apart and of course they all want to send messages,” said Mrs Flores.

The team of psychologists charged with ensuring the mental welfare of the men below ground are attempting keep such developments from the miners.

“We read all the letters before they are sent down to make sure the miners do not experience any extra anxiety,” said Alberto Iturra, head of the psychological team.

One of the trapped miners, Yonni Barrios Rojas, who is using his first aid training to treat medical problems underground is among those who faces difficult questions when he finally makes it the surface.

His wife, Marta Salinas, 56, discovered he had a mistress when she came across another woman holding a vigil for him. The other woman, Susana Valenzuela, said they met on a training course five years ago and he was planning to leave his wife for her.

“He is my husband. He loves me and I am his devoted wife,” insisted Mrs Salinas. “This other woman has no legitimacy.”

Wethal on October 13, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Last post is from the London Telegraph.

Wethal on October 13, 2010 at 2:32 PM

You know what I’d like to see video of?

The miner whose wife and mistress met right after the collapse coming out of the mine.

BadgerHawk on October 13, 2010 at 2:49 PM

what a miracle to watch as life emerges from that hole and the accompanying universal celebration of life… if only there were parallels on the sanctity of life in other areas… must be above my paygrade to figure that out.

gatorboy on October 13, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Don’t know where he got it, but miner number 13 came out with a rosary around his neck.

txmomof6 on October 13, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Don’t know where he got it, but miner number 13 came out with a rosary around his neck.

txmomof6 on October 13, 2010 at 3:28 PM

I expect he had it with him when he went down into the mine in the first place. Most folks who use them carry them with.

tcn on October 13, 2010 at 3:47 PM

And the capsules have wheels all around, so they roll up the shaft, rather than scraping or bumping the sides of the shaft.

Wethal on October 13, 2010 at 2:19 PM

The bogey wheels will keep the capsule riding smoothly and minimize damage. The problem is with at least two changes of angle in the bore hole, along with a slight spiral twist (all normal conditions when a “directional” hole is drilled toward a “target”), the hoist cable is rubbing on the sides of the hole. Nothing can be done about that except a close watch for wear.

Yoop on October 13, 2010 at 4:13 PM

I expect he had it with him when he went down into the mine in the first place. Most folks who use them carry them with.

tcn on October 13, 2010 at 3:47 PM

You are probably right. From my experience the South American and Central American miners are much more religious, and superstitious when it comes to their underground jobs, than North American miners. I understand many mines have small religious shrines underground and acknowledgment of patron saints.

Yoop on October 13, 2010 at 4:21 PM

The last miner is in the capsule now. This finished in just about 22 hours. They originally thought it would take at least an hour for each turn around. Turns out the capsules have been going up or down in 8 to 10 minute splits instead of 20 minute splits one way. And they appear to get them loaded in and out way faster than last night when it first started.

Now, just the rescue workers sent down there are still there. I am not sure if there are 3 or 4 of them.

karenhasfreedom on October 13, 2010 at 8:47 PM

This is a great outcome for all involved, to say the least…It’s also a great outcome for Chile to have this success after having experienced the large earthquake and the Van der SLUT murder…

Gohawgs on October 14, 2010 at 12:34 AM

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