The first of thirty-three Chilean miners trapped half a mile underground in a gold and copper mine for the last 68 days could be free tomorrow, barring technical complications. Safety runs of the rescue capsule that will bring the men individually up through a roughly 2,000-foot tunnel are planned for today.
This is great news—it's amazing that they've survived this long. Especially when you read the details of what they've been through the last few months—their ordeal sounds less like reality and more like hallucinations of the doomed. For instance, they've been sending letters a half-mile up to the surface to their wives. They've had lawyers dropping documents down the shaft to ensure they equally profit from media and endorsement deals for beer, mining equipment, and sex-aid vitamins.
They've also shunned each other and taken vows of silence never to speak of their first few weeks underground. Via the Telegraph:
It has emerged that in the early days of being trapped five of the men had formed a breakaway group after becoming isolated from the rest because of their status as “subcontracted workers”.
“It seems they were treated as second class citizens within the refuge,” a source within the rescue team told 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.”
Psychologists on the surface had to come up with a strategy to overcome the divisions within the group.
“It was important to have them all working together as a team,” said Alberto Iturra, the chief psychologist at the mine, confirming that there had been a split. “I don’t exactly know what occurred between them but the most important thing is the problem was resolved. The system we used worked and since then they have been operating well as a team.”
It is understood that the men have vowed never to talk about exactly what went on during the 17 initial days after the mine collapsed and before a borehole reached their refuge and rescuers found them alive.