Rescue of Chilean Miners
Some of you may remember this
real-life humanitarian crisis that unfolded in Chile back in 2010. Hollywood also made a movie back in 2015 on drama, “The 33” starring Antonio Banderas. Here is what ensued:
On October 13, 2010, Foreman Luiz Urzua stepped out of the rescue capsule to thunderous applause and cries of “Viva, Chile!”; he was the last of 33 miners rescued after spending 70 days trapped beneath 2,000 feet of earth and rock. Following a catastrophic collapse, the miners were trapped in the lower shafts of the mine, initially without contact with the surface, leaving the world in suspense as to their fate. Their discovery and ultimate rescue are a story of courage, resourcefulness, and ultimately, one of the most successful projects in recent times.
The work crew of the San Jose copper and gold mine near Copiapo, in northern Chile, were in the middle of their shift when suddenly, on August 5, 2010, the earth shook and large portions of the mine tunnels collapsed, trapping 33 miners in a “workshop,” in a lower gallery of the mine. Though they were temporarily safe, they were nearly a half mile below the surface, with no power and food for two days. Worse, they had no means of communicating with the surface, so their fate remained a mystery to the company and their families. Under these conditions, their main goal was simple survival, conserving and stretching out meager food supplies for 17 days, until the first drilling probe arrived, punching a hole in the ceiling of the shaft where they were trapped. Once they had established contact with the surface and provided details of their condition, a massive rescue operation was conceived and undertaken.
The first challenge was simply keeping the miners alive. The earliest supply deliveries down the narrow communication shaft included quantities of food and water, oxygen, medicine, clothing, and necessities for survival as well as materials to help the miners pass their time. While groups worked to keep up the miners’ spirits, communicating daily and passing along messages from families, other project teams were formed to begin developing a plan to rescue the men.
The challenges were severe. Among the significant questions that demanded practical and immediate answers were:
A lot of countries stepped in to help Chile in this humanitarian tragedy. Project Management principles were directly applied to fix this situation. In short, things did end well for the Chilean miners.
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