The San Jose Mine Crisis


Dario Segovia, 48, emerges at the rescue of the trapped miners
Hugo Infante/Government of Chile, via Flickr

In Autumn 2010, the world watched rescue efforts after a mine collapsed in Chile. What happened to the miners? How did they survive this terrible experience? Liz Waid and Adam Navis tell the story.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Adam Navis.

Voice 2

And I'm Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

On August 5th, 2010, Jose Henriquez, Edison Pena, and 31 other men went to work. They were miners at the San Jose Mine near Capiapo, Chile. Much of the land in Chile is full of valuable minerals. At the San Jose Mine, miners worked under the ground. Their job was to find and dig copper and gold out of the ground. It was supposed to be a normal day. But instead it was a day of crisis. Today's Spotlight is on the San Jose Mine crisis.

Voice 2

On that day in August, a group of 33 miners worked deep under the ground. Suddenly, the ground above them collapsed. Large rocks began to fall. These rocks blocked the path that led back to the surface. Huge clouds of dust filled the mine. Jose Henriquez, Edison Pena, and the other miners could not reach the surface. The miners were trapped.

Voice 1

Luis Urzúa was the leader of the work group. He knew there was a safe room close by. This room had extra support so that falling rocks would not be able to crush the space. Urzúa led the men down to the room – it was 700 meters under the ground. The miners called this room "the refuge" because it was their place of safety.

Voice 2

In "the refuge" Urzúa prepared for a bad situation. He organized the miners. Some men searched for another way out of the mine. Others made "the refuge" and the surrounding paths safer. All the men took turns with these jobs.

Voice 1

Urzúa also organized the food. The miners had enough food for two days. But Urzúa reduced how much food each man received. The men only ate every other day. Each man ate two bites of tuna fish, took one drink of milk, and ate a small piece of fruit. As a result, they made the food last for two weeks. Urzúa prepared the trapped miners to survive under the ground for as long as possible.

Voice 2

For weeks, the trapped men waited for help. They believed they had a better chance to survive if their attitudes were positive. So, they did things to encourage themselves.

Voice 1

Edison Pena enjoyed music by the famous musician Elvis Presley. So he led the men in singing Elvis songs. Pena also continued to exercise. He would run many kilometers each day! This physical exercise helped him remember his desire to live.

Voice 2

Jose Henriquez found hope in his Christian faith. He believed God would keep them safe. And he trusted God to save them. Many other men found hope in their Christian faith too. Henriquez told the BBC,

Voice 3

"We began by praying. We sat in a circle and prayed together. Two times a day we would have prayer services. Each person could pray and tell what he was feeling in his heart. Then I would speak to them about God."

Voice 1

While the trapped men waited under the ground, people gathered on the surface. A rescue team organized efforts to find the miners. Families of the men gathered too. They hoped the men had survived. News organizations from around the world came to report about the crisis.

Voice 2

The rescue team started their work immediately. They used several drills. These tools made very deep and narrow holes in the ground. Rescue workers hoped one of these drills would reach the miners. 17 days passed. Finally, one of the drills broke through the rock just outside of "the refuge"! The trapped miners saw it. They tied a note to the end of the drill. The rescue team felt a pressure change on the drill. They knew they had found an open space under the ground. So they pulled the drill back to the surface. At the end of the drill was the note from the miners. The note said,

Voice 3

"We are fine in the refuge, all 33 of us."

Voice 1

The rescue workers and families on the surface celebrated the good news! Rescue workers sent a camera down the drill hole. The world was able to see pictures and film of the miners. And the people on the surface were able to communicate with the miners. Rescue workers also used the holes to send the miners much needed food and medicine. However, the drill holes were not large enough to remove the miners.

Voice 2

So now, the rescue team had to create a rescue plan. The rescue was going to be very difficult. They needed to make a hole wide enough for a human to fit through. Not very many drills can make a hole this big. And workers feared that the large drills could cause another collapse of rock in the mine. They needed to be very careful.

Voice 1

The rescue team organized three drilling plans - "Plan A," "Plan B," and "Plan C." They decided to try all three plans at the same time. If one plan failed, the rescue would not be delayed. Each plan used a different kind of drill and method of drilling. And each drill entered the ground at a different place. On October 9, after 52 days of drilling, the Plan B drill reached the miners.

Voice 2

Next, the rescue workers created a container shaped like a large bullet. The container was large enough to fit one person. It could be lowered down into the hole and raised back up to carry a miner to the surface.

Voice 1

On October 12, the rescue team was ready. After 69 days trapped in the mine, it was time to bring the miners out. The rescue team sent a container down into the mine - with one rescue worker inside. It took about 15 minutes for the rescue worker to reach the trapped men. Once he arrived he looked over the container - to make sure it was safe. Then he prepared the men for their trip to the surface!

Voice 2

For 25 hours, the rescue team worked. They sent four more rescue workers down. And one by one the trapped miners returned to the surface. With each successful trip, the rescue workers and families celebrated. People cried tears of joy.

Voice 1

On October 13, 2010, Luis Urzúa entered the rescue container. He was the last miner to leave the mine. When he reached the surface, the rescue workers in the mine held up a sign to the rescue camera. The sign said, "Mission Accomplished Chile." They had completed their goal!

Voice 2

When the last rescue worker returned to the surface, the president of Chile placed a metal cover over the rescue hole. The long and horrible crisis was finished.

Voice 1

However, the crisis and rescue is only part of the amazing story. Listen for another Spotlight program about life after the San Jose Mine Crisis.

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find this program and many others on our website at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called "The San Jose Mine Crisis." We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

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Question:

Do you remember when the Chilean miners were stuck in the mine? How do you think you would do in a situation like that?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
adem
said on April 21, 2011

We learn each day new things about. I learnt during the Son Jose Mine Crisis that we have to be hopeful. also

humble71's avatar
humble71
said on April 21, 2011

It was an interesting program because when I heard it I felt I was walking inside the mountain with the miners . The sound and the effects are excellent. Now I know something else about that situation and the courage of a great nation like Chile to rescued its citizens.
Thanks for making this program , i really like it . Congratulations my friends

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witchdalat
said on April 22, 2011

today, reading this story again, i am also really touched.
i think that is a good lesson for many countries and many people.
i also hope that Japanese will keep strong their belives about getting over nuclear disaster and the world will safe and sound.

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America
said on September 04, 2012

two years have passed, always remember the rescue of the miners, was something that everyone will remember forever.

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Onesimus Le
said on April 11, 2016

Thanks for this useful program. I am studying English in this program. Every day I read one or two lesson on this. I feel that it is esasy to read and understand. Thanks Spotlight Program.

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kenhieuloilam
said on March 12, 2020

There are lots of efforts for a success. Each of us makes much effort to get successes in life. Each of us makes much effort to live our lives well and contribute to building for a beautiful good world. We live a beautiful good life. We wish beautiful good things. We contribute to building for beautiful good things for life. We wish a beautiful good world. We contribute to building for a beautiful good world. There are lots of efforts for a success. Each of us makes much effort to get successes in life. There may be success or there may be unsuccess.  Living to be a good person is the greatest success in life of each of us.

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Honneur
said on March 12, 2020

I’m a “cold-blooded” man and I always try to maintain self-control, but in that situation I don’t know what could happen to me. I could probably accept the decisions of the most experienced of all.