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What Happens After Chilean Miners Emerge?

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What Happens After Chilean Miners Emerge?

Latin America

What Happens After Chilean Miners Emerge?

What Happens After Chilean Miners Emerge?

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NPR's Melissa Block talks to reporter Annie Murphy about what happens after the miners emerge from underground.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

That's reporter Annie Murphy in Copiapo, Chile, and Annie, let's talk about those miners and the plans to bring them to the surface. What do you know about the sequence that's going to happen, theoretically, tomorrow night?

ANNIE MURPHY: Well, first you'll have two government rescuers lowered down into the mine where the men are. They'll evaluate the medical condition of each man. Right now there's a rough list that details who will come up in what order. The rescuers, when they're down there, will adjust the list according to the actual condition that the men are in. First you'll have the most able bodied men going up, then they'll be followed by the weakest, and then finally, the very strongest men will go last.

And then as the men come up, they'll be brought to an observation area that's right on site. In the observation area, they'll be greeted by two family members. They'll have a brief time to talk to them, provided that there's nothing, medically speaking, going on that needs to be attended to. And then the men will be taken by helicopter to the local hospital, where they'll be kept in observation rooms for at least two days, to see, you know, just what sort of condition they're in, what sorts of problems they're running into. Doctors are expecting issues like fungal diseases, lung problems, eye issues because of the dust, things like that. And then, you know, there's also a lot that they can't anticipate that they'll just have to react to.

BLOCK: Right. And more than two months underground for these miners, they would have to be thinking also about psychological care, what the men might be facing once their above ground again.

MURPHY: Absolutely. All these miners will get at least six month of psychological treatment. I imagine quite likely, they'll get a lot more than that. But they're starting out with a minimum of six months of psychological treatment.

BLOCK: There are lot's and lot's of reporters where you are Annie, there in Copiapo, all of them wanting exclusives once the miners are brought up to the surface. What's being put in place? How are the families going to handle that?

MURPHY: Well, there's been a lot of discussion about this at the camp. There are probably about 2,000 different journalists here right now, and it's a very small space. So these families have had a lot to deal with in terms of the demand. And these men have also directly received some of these requests for interviews. And they've actually made a pact with each other that they've agreed to do it in such a way that no one can profit any more than anyone else, and they actually want to have a legal document that binds them to that. They've requested that a lawyer be brought on site, and that he send down a legal document that they can all sign.

The idea is that they think that if they do this correctly, it can be done in such a way that none of them would have to work ever again. And I think given what they've gone through, and also just the life of a miner here in general, it's pretty understandable.

BLOCK: Annie, I know there have been moves to reinforce the shaft to make sure that this capsule, this rescue capsule, doesn't get stuck. What are you hearing about any technical issues that people are concerned about?

MURPHY: Initially when they were debating whether or not to line the shaft, they were concerned that parts of the shaft would be too loose, the stone would be too loose and that things could get snagged. But in the end, when they evaluated the entire shaft by examining it with cameras, they found that most of the shaft is actually made of very solid rock. It's just the first, the very first section that's a little bit looser. So they reinforced that part of the shaft with like a big metal pipe that they inserted, so that this rescue capsule can go up and down much more easily.

BLOCK: I think, Annie, that the trip up from the mine is supposed to take, what, 20, 25 minutes - one at a time - are they worried about the miners being suddenly alone after being together in this confined space for so long?

MURPHY: The government is definitely concerned about this. I think that it will obviously create some anxiety for the men no matter what. But they're being prepared for it. There talking about it amongst themselves down in the mine. The government is trying to coach them through it in such a way that it'll minimize the anxiety that they'll feel. But no doubt they're going to have a very strange sensation while they're making that trip up.

BLOCK: Okay. Annie Murphy in Copiapo, Chile, talking about the planned rescue of the trapped miners which is scheduled for late tomorrow night. Annie, thanks very much.

MURPHY: Thank you.

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