Thursday 8 December 2016

The facts and figures behind a miracle

Published 14/10/2010 | 05:00

Camp Hope, the tent city in which the families of the 33 miners held a 69-day vigil, could be turned into a museum.

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Carlos Alvarez, the nephew of one of the miners, Daniel Herrera, is among those who want the camp to be preserved.

Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera, said he was open to the idea.



  • More than 2,000 journalists from all over the world swamped Camp Hope to witness the rescue.


A local entrepreneur set up a 'hotel' in a large marquee to provide sleeping quarters for the assembled media, charging $250 (€179) per night.



  • A series of apparent coincidences around the number 33 has made it the miners' lucky number.


There were 33 people trapped in the mine, the men were found in the 33rd week of the year, it took 33 days to drill the hole and the first man was brought to the surface on the date 13.10.10, which adds up to 33.



  • Mario Sepulveda, the second miner to be brought to the surface, brought with him a bag of rocks as an ironic souvenir of the men's ordeal. He laughed and joked with officials and rescuers as he handed out his 'gifts' by the rescue shaft.
  • The wives and girlfriends of 32 of the miners were given free beauty treatments, including hair colouring, manicures and massages, before being reunited with their loved ones. Cristian Delgado, the manager of the Palumbo beauty clinic in Copiapo, said the women had wanted to make sure they looked their best.
  • The rescue effort was named Operation San Lorenzo, after the patron saint of miners.


St Lorenzo Ruiz was the first Filipino to be martyred for his belief in God. After being tortured for three days by the Japanese in 1637, he was crushed to death while being hung upside down in a pit.



  • Two of the miners had moved to Copiapo in the hope of finding a better life after losing their livelihoods in the Chilean earthquake in February.


Raul Bustos (40) and Victor Zamora (33) were both survivors of the tremor that claimed 521 lives in and around the capital city, Santiago.

Mr Zamora, a surface-based mechanic, only went into the mine on the day of the accident to fix a vehicle.



  • Mario Gomez, who at 63 was the oldest member of the group, was considered a lucky talisman because he had previously survived 11 days trapped in a shipping container after stowing away. On that occasion he stayed alive by drinking water collected in a shoe and nibbling a piece of chocolate.
  • Four of the miners celebrated birthdays while trapped underground.


Mario Sepulveda turned 40 at the start of the month, when the rescuers sent down 33 small cakes and sang 'Happy Birthday' over the phone.

Last month, Juan Illanes turned 52, receiving a pencil and paper from his wife, and Claudio Acuna turned 56, receiving a football shirt from his other half. Jose Ojeda was 46 on Monday.



  • The Phoenix Two capsule used to bring the men to the surface was based on a pod used to rescue 11 German miners from the Lengede-Broistedt mine near Salzgitter in 1963. On that occasion the men spent 14 days underground at a depth of 190ft, less than a tenth of the depth of the San Jose miners. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


Irish Independent

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