As each man appeared in the claustrophobic cage like capsule from 77 metres underground, tears of joy and relief were shed for the 33 miners who, On Wednesday night, were finally released from the sweltering tomb, after 68 days deep under the surface of the earth. Chile and the rest of the world watched and celebrated as the miners emerged in reflective sunglasses from the San Jose mine, to their families and to President Pinera and to the glare of media scrutiny and intrusive visual commentary- which served to keep us updated.
The men now have instant celebrity thrust upon them and some may not be forced back to working in the mining industry as they may have PR opportunities, chat show deals and no doubt the Hollywood ‘based on true events’ film that will shortly be penned by some clever screenwriter. Along with their new found fame the miners may have to deal with the short and long term effects of post traumatic stress disorder.
This was a great PR opportunity for President Pinera. With a near tragedy transformed into joyous international event which invoked national Chilean pride, Pinera formed part of the greeting committee, smiling and hugging each miner as they surfaced. The massive contribution and aid of the engineers, helpers and the medical and care teams should not be overlooked; the BBC seemed excitably eager to announce the 33rd and final miner’s rescue live last night, but at that stage there were still five rescuers left underground waiting for their turns to ascend.
Let’s hope lessons are learnt within the mining industry and that the miners are not forgotten and left without work after the media have tired of this emotive story of near tragedy and of human triumph. Some of these men have lost fingers from previous mining injuries; the post traumatic stress disorder will not be the first scars they carry from working in such conditions. Quite rightly the Government and the mining company involved should be held accountable for this terrible incident and the miners must be justly compensated for the trauma and suffering they and their families have endured.