Hard to believe as a relentless sun bakes the northern hemisphere, as America observes half a century of men landing on the moon, as the space shuttle prepares for retirement and science considers putting men on asteroids and then Mars, that 33 men remain trapped for a month in a collapsed Chilean mine, with prospects of freedom sometime around Christmas!
The 33 are ensconced in a room 20 by 30 feet. About half of their prison has been set aside as a lavatory area. They are in touch with scientists 2200 feet about them, communicating through a tube the diameter of a lemon. A second tube has been drilled to supply oxygen and a third for video conferences, meaning some of their grieving families will soon be able to chat with them.
Five of the captives are believed suffering from depression. And why not? They have been down there for one month already, and face yet another 90 days imprisonment!
The mine is a smaller one, not subject to the rules and regulations attendant larger excavations.
All of which fairly screams the question: how did this happen? Why can not a faster rescue be assured? (An Australian-built drilling rig is ripping away at an -escape tunnel, but still and all, it is expected to take 90 days). At least one of the miners is a seaman put out of work by the recent earthquake in his land who went to the mine as a last resort to keep his family alive. How many others got there through some similar contingency is not yet known.
What is known is this: the inability to reach 33 trapped men in the amount of time the experts guess is a story in itself, a tale of misplaced interest. Other nations capable of putting men on the moon and safely retrieving them should surely blanche at the thought of these 33, singing, as they do, their national anthem to maintain their spirits. One of their number has been designated the camp physician, to take blood and urine samples which will be shuttled up the tiny tubes to ground level for analysis.
As we in the United States gaze at the sun, and complain about the inordinate heat, we need to subconsciously exchange with these men. And wonder, “there but for the Grace of God…”