May 24, 2019

Trapped Miners tell of fear and despair

Chile President Sebastian Pinera sneaks in and tries to win the best dressed miner contest at the hospital.

Trapped Chilean miner Richard Villarroel has spoken for the first time of the fear and despair among the group in the days following the mine collapse.

Thinking that he would be entombed forever, Villarroel said ”We were waiting for death. We were wasting away. We were so skinny. I lost 11 kilos. I was afraid of not meeting my baby, who is on the way. That was what I was most waiting for.”

It took 17 days before the borehole reached the cavern they were trapped in. Villarroel said he was playing dominoes when the drill broke through. He grabbed a wrench and began clanging on the bit. The men all sang the National anthem, which is of course what all patriotic miners should do in such situations.

Up until that moment they had been surviving on meagre rations and a fast fading hope that they would be rescued. Half a spoonful a day of tuna per man and oily water to drink. Some of the men were so sure death was near that they simply climbed into cots in the cavern and would not get up.

It was up to natural leaders like shift foreman Luis Urzua and Jose Henriquez, an evangelical pastor to organise the men and keep them going.

The men split into groups, each with a special task. Villarroel said he was in charge of maintaining the electrical system.

Despite a pact among the men that they would not talk of the difficulties among them before they were discovered, there has been talk of fights and discord.

Newswarped thinks that having the odd fight and argument when facing a slow agonising death is totally understandable. Hopefully the media will leave that aspect alone and just celebrate the triumph of human spirit that this saga has become.