In August 2010, a 100-year-old Chilean mine collapsed and trapped 33 miners for 69 days. This amazing story is of their struggles – both 2,000 below the surface, and back on top.
The miners grew close, grew apart, squabbled and had their faith – in God and each other – tested in an amazing story.
When I think of a mine collapse, I think of what you see in movies or on TV: A few rocks and debris covering an entryway, and it’s going to take a few hours to dig out. But the collapse and the San Jose mine was huge.
For hours, there were warnings. Cracking rock that sounded like thunder, rolling but not stopping, like it usually would. To some, it sounded like blasting was taking place without warning, but even that would usually end. This didn’t. Then, cracks appeared, and were growing. Finally, debris that looked like smoke would appear, but that too would go away after a minute. But it didn’t this time.
A shift of 34 workers was down deep, and even the manager was afraid enough to leave. By happenstance, one worker was in a truck on the way up the spiral path to the surface. The collapse just missed him, and he was the only one known to have survived at first.
A solid sheet of stone, hundreds of feet all the way around, weighing as much as two Empire State Buildings, trapped the 33. And they weren’t sure if anybody would bother to attempt a rescue.
At first, the gravity of the situation drove the men together, figuring out responsibilities, gathering in prayer, determined to stick together and get out.
And, oddly, when the rescuers first reached them, the unity broke down, as the men were courted by journalists, companies looking for endorsements, movie deals – even while they were still inside. It took a month from the point they were reached to finally get out.
And when the men made it out, they were faced with new challenges, of family and fame and money.
This is an uplifting and depressing book at the same time, of how we can rally together in tough times and how that breaks down when we think we’re past them. I’m reminded of the national response to 9/11. Whatever happened to that unity?
This is a brisk read, hard to put down.