Saturday 3 December 2016

World watches transfixed by triumph of human will

Tim Huber

Published 14/10/2010 | 05:00

They were inspired by the miners' fortitude and camaraderie. They were amazed by the engineering feat that saved the men's lives. And they were grateful for some good news for a change.

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From Australia to the coal fields of Appalachia, people in seemingly every corner of the world followed the Chilean miners' rescue on TV and the internet, and many were uplifted by the experience.

"It's a heartwarming story. It's family values. It's leadership. It's everything that we should have here," Mark Vannucci said as he watched on a TV at a restaurant in New York's Times Square. His wife, Susan, said: "Instead of those guys in the mine turning on each other, they worked together, they bonded."

The riveting images of the men being brought to the surface to see the sun, breathe fresh air and hug their loved ones for the first time in two months were broadcast live to millions of people in the US and across much of the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa throughout the night and during the day.

Viewers were transfixed by the Chilean state video feed: a you-are-there view from a camera mounted on top of the rescue capsule that carried the miners to the surface. It showed the brilliant white light at the end of the tunnel getting bigger and bigger and finally exploding like a starburst as each man ascended.

"It feels like we're all there with them even though we're so far away in London," Jose Torra said in England. "For once it is a story with a good ending."

Terror

Some marvelled at the miners' capacity to cope for so long and wondered how they would have dealt with the terror and uncertainty.

"It's pretty amazing to see them stay down there that long and not go crazy," said Tamara Craiu, a 21-year-old student from Singapore who is studying in London. "I'd go mad."

The rescue of each miner set off a wave of congratulatory messages on Twitter, where many people were already offering their casting suggestions for a Hollywood movie about the ordeal: Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck or Nicolas Cage.

In Spain, Elias Saguillo, one of some 50 Spanish coal miners who staged a month-long underground protest in September over unpaid wages and demands for subsidies, said he and his colleagues followed the Chilean ordeal day after day.

"Mainly we are proud of how the Chilean miners endured. From the first day through to the end, they behaved like true miners," Mr Saguillo said after finishing his shift at the Las Cuevas mine, where he and colleagues spent 28 days at a depth of 1,650ft.

In China, the rescue was prominently displayed on virtually all the major Chinese news websites. State television ran a segment on its evening broadcast, while the official news agency Xinhua carried an editorial praising the rescue: "For more than two months, the miners, families, citizens and the government all have created a miracle of life. The rescue reflects the shining moment of human nature."

China's mining industry is considered by far the world's deadliest, with more than 2,600 coal miners killed last year in blasts and other accidents. Those figures reflect a decrease from previous years as the government moved to improve safety by shutting down many illegal mines.

Irish Independent

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