33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners

33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners

Jonathan Franklin

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0399157778

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Available Now

  • Slideshow



Reporter Jonathan Franklin taking notes at Paloma station.

Jonathan Franklin / Addict Village

Faith and Los 33 were never far apart during the rescue of the miners.

Jonathan Franklin / Addict Village

Huge convoys of equipment rolled into Camp Hope nearly every day to help with the rescue.

Ariel Caliban Marinkovic

Tears of joy filled the air when the rescue capsule began saving the lives of the thirty-three men.

Ariel Caliban Marinkovic

On August 5, 2010, at the San José mine in northern Chile, 33 men were entombed 2,300 feet below the earth when a slab of rock the size of a skyscraper sheared off the mountain and sealed shut their only access to the surface. The miners were discovered alive 17 days later, and for the next seven weeks after that discovery, as rescuers sought to bring them to the surface, the eyes of the world shifted to this previously obscure corner of South America. More than 2,000 journalists and reporters flooded in to cover the drama. But despite worldwide interest, the media rarely delved to either the front lines of the rescue or below the surface of the tragedy. Locked behind police lines, most reporters were reduced to months of interviewing family members and politicians. However, award-winning journalist Jonathan Franklin was the exception.

The print journalist with the most extensive access and contacts, Franklin reported, recorded, and filmed from the front row of the operation as it unfolded and, as a result, was afforded unprecedented and unique access to the miners and the rescuers. Now, for the first time ever, he tells their full story in 33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners

Franklin's status as a "local"--he has lived in Chile for 16 years, speaks fluent Spanish, and has six daughters with his Chilean wife--and his 25 years' experience as an investigative reporter provided him access other journalists could only dream of. For almost six weeks he lived on the hillside that served as the rescue operation's nerve center. He sat in on planning meetings, pored over government documents, and recorded sessions between the miners and the psychologists charged with looking after their mental health. He conducted interviews with miners' families, rescue workers, engineers, drill operators, and many others, including President Piñera of Chile. Even before the miners were rescued, while they were still underground, Franklin interviewed them via a makeshift phone that connected them to the surface. "I sat in this container where you could pick up a phone, dial eleven, and the phone would ring down below," says Franklin, who developed such a bond of trust with the miners that they described in great detail the dramatic first 17 days of their confinement. Cut off from the outside...

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congregation in the southern Chilean city of Talca. Gathering the men in the refuge, Henríquez gave a brief prayer—enough, it seemed, to relax the men and allow Lucho Urzúa and Mario Sepúlveda to organize a mission. Claudio Yañez had a Casio wristwatch, allowing the men to reorient their schedule and day. “I didn’t need a watch down there,” said Sepúlveda. “You know what works as a clock? My stomach. I could tell what time it was by what I wanted to eat. Your body does not react the same to the

the other way when workers showed up hours late. Working on a barren hill, the estimated 250 workers of San Esteban Primera (the holding company for several mines in the region, including San José) had no cell phone coverage, few safety features, frequent accidents, and a near total absence of women. Though it was 2010, in many ways the men lived a frontier existence. The countryside is pockmarked with signs that this is mining country—ranging from the all-night brothels ($40 a shag), to the rows

. They were vigilant in protecting the men who were asleep, but when the TV began, they stopped doing the rounds. . . . They preferred to watch television.” Regular mail now reached the miners. Each man waited hopefully for a paloma delivery with his name on it and a letter inside. But it soon became clear that not all letters were being delivered in a timely manner. “There was no way to have a conversation; the answers were always four or five letters behind,” said the miner Claudio Yañez.

as expected,” he said. Plan A—the first operation, which began on August 29—had reached 1,066 feet, nearly halfway to the men. Both Plan B and Plan C, said Golborne, were now advancing at the rate of 3 feet an hour. As the media circus at Camp Hope mutated into a full-fledged zoo, media expert Alejandro Pino was designing a strategy to help the miners cope with their newfound status as celebrities. Pino, a lanky sixty-seven-year-old with five decades’ experience as a journalist and public

delivery from above. When Plan B reached 280 feet, the bit snapped and one of the four drill heads went into free fall the length of the shaft and fell into the floor of the mine. No one was injured as the metal hammer plowed into the mud, but Plan B was halted. Mario Sepúlveda called the rescuers. “Ah, I think we have something of yours down here,” he said in jest. “I believe that it is called a bit, a drill bit. But what is it doing here?” Juan Illanes, one of the miners, hauled the bit

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