Chilean miners are rescued after 69 days underground - HISTORY
Year
2010

Chilean miners are rescued after 69 days underground

On this day in 2010, the last of 33 miners trapped nearly half a mile underground for more than two months at a caved-in mine in northern Chile, are rescued. The miners survived longer than anyone else trapped underground in recorded history.

The miners’ ordeal began on August 5, 2010, when the San Jose gold and copper mine where they were working, some 500 miles north of the Chilean capital city of Santiago, collapsed. The 33 men moved to an underground emergency shelter area, where they discovered just several days’ worth of food rations. As their situation grew more desperate over the next 17 days, the miners, uncertain if anyone would find them, considered suicide and cannibalism. Then, on August 22, a drill sent by rescuers broke through to the area where the miners were located, and the men sent back up a note saying, “We are fine in the refuge, the 33.” Food, water, letters, medicine and other supplies were soon delivered to the miners via a narrow bore hole. Video cameras were also sent down, making it possible for rescuers to see the men and the hot, humid space in which they were entombed. As engineering and mining experts from around the world collaborated on the long, complex process of devising a way to bring the 33 men up to the surface, the miners maintained a system of jobs and routines in order to keep up morale.

Rescuers eventually drilled and reinforced an escape shaft wide enough to extract the men, one by one. (Employees of a Pennsylvania-based drilling-tool company played a role in drilling the rescue shaft.) On October 12, the first of the miners was raised to the surface in a narrow, 13-foot-tall capsule painted white, blue and red, the colors of the Chilean flag. The approximately 2,000-foot ascent to the surface in the capsule took around 15 minutes for each man.

The miners were greeted by a cheering crowd that included Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera; media from around the world; and friends and relatives, many of whom had been camped at the base of the mine in the Atacama Desert for months. Millions of people around the globe watched the rescue on live TV. Less than 24 hours after the operation began, all 33 of the miners, who ranged in age from 19 to 63, had been safely rescued. Almost all the men were in good health, and each of them sported dark glasses to protect their eyes after being in a dimly lit space for so long.

The rescued miners were later honored with trips to a variety of destinations, including England, Israel and Florida’s Walt Disney World, where a parade was held in their honor.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Palestinians hijack German airliner

Four Palestinians hijack a Lufthansa airliner and demand the release of 11 imprisoned members of Germany’s Baader-Meinhof terrorist group, also known as the Red Army Faction. The Red Army Faction was a group of ultra-left revolutionaries who terrorized Germany for three decades, ...read more

Sir Isaac Brock saves Canada

During the War of 1812, British and Indian forces under Sir Isaac Brock defeat Americans under General Stephen Van Rensselaer at the Battle of Queenstown Heights, on the Niagara frontier in Ontario, Canada. The British victory, in which more than 1,000 U.S. troops were killed, ...read more

Continental Navy established

The Continental Congress authorizes construction and administration of the first American naval force—the precursor of the United States Navy.Since the outbreak of open hostilities with the British in April, little consideration had been given to protection by sea until Congress ...read more

B’nai B’rith founded

B’nai B’rith, the oldest Jewish service organization in the world, is founded in New York City by Henry Jones and 11 others. B’nai B’rith, meaning “Sons of the Covenant,” organized its first lodge in November, and Isaac Dittenhoefer was elected the first president. The fraternal ...read more

White House cornerstone laid

The cornerstone is laid for a presidential residence in the newly designated capital city of Washington. In 1800, President John Adams became the first president to reside in the executive mansion, which soon became known as the “White House” because its white-gray Virginia ...read more

Poet Charles Sorley killed at Loos

On this day in 1915, the 21-year-old Scottish poet Charles Hamilton Sorley is killed by a German sniper’s bullet during the Battle of Loos.The son of a university professor in Aberdeen and a promising scholar himself, Sorley decided to spend a year studying in Germany in 1913 ...read more

American Basketball Association debuts

On October 13, 1967, the Anaheim Amigos lose to the Oakland Oaks, 134-129, in the inaugural game of the American Basketball Association. In its first season, the ABA included 11 teams: the Pittsburgh Pipers, Minnesota Muskies, Indiana Pacers, Kentucky Colonels and New Jersey ...read more

White House cornerstone is laid

On this day in 1792, the cornerstone of the White House is laid in the nation’s new capital, Washington, D.C.George Washington, who had been in office just over a year when the site for the capital was determined, asked a French architect and city planner named Pierre L’Enfant to ...read more

Poet Robert Lowell sentenced to prison

On this day in 1943, 26-year-old poet Robert Lowell is sentenced to jail for a year for evading the draft. Lowell refused to be drafted because he objected to saturation bombing in Europe and other Allied tactics. He served the term in New York’s West Street jail.Lowell was born ...read more

Jimmy Stewart stars in Harvey

On this day in 1950, the actor James Stewart stars in Harvey, a drama about an eccentric man whose best friend is a giant invisible rabbit. Directed by Henry Koster and based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Mary Chase, Harvey earned Stewart the fourth Best ...read more

Ohio voters reject Vallandigham

The voters of Ohio send Clement Vallandigham to a resounding defeat in the fall gubernatorial election. As leader of the Copperheads, or anti-war Democrats, Vallandigham was an important and highly visible critic of the Republicans’ war policy, particularly the emancipation of ...read more