Miners’ fate still uncertain

We certainly identify with the joy felt by people in Chile who learned over the weekend that 33 miners had survived a mine collapse 17 days previous.

We remain equally apprehensive about the miners’ prospects for the next 120 days, the amount of time that officials estimate will be required to free the miners from their pitch-black jail more than 2,200 feet below the surface.

Though the gold and copper mine lies thousands of miles south of here, much of the experience there was reminiscent of the Crandall Canyon mine collapse in Utah that trapped six miners three years ago this month.

In Chile, as in Utah, the collapse sent shock waves across the nation, which watched a desperate attempt to make contact via a drill bore down through solid rock.

In Chile, the effort was rewarded with the sight of miners holding up a sign deep below reading: “All 33 of us are fine in the shelter.”

No such reward came to the rescuers in Utah, of course. A drill bore sent down into the mine resulted in no contact with any of the miners and no sign as to their fate. Oxygen readings in the mine were none too encouraging.

An effort to reach the miners met with tragedy when another collapse claimed the lives of three rescuers.

All of which illustrates the continuing danger that remains for the miners in Chile.

In the best of circumstances, they can expect to emerge into the light about Christmastime. While they will have been supplied nourishment, it sounds like something other than food.

Earth, meanwhile, is hardly steady and unchanging even deep beneath the surface.

The miners’ survival could be transitory at best and we wish them well for the coming months and beyond.


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