Celebrating American greatness…in Chile; Update: Live rescue video link added; brief Obama statement; 10:45pm ET 1st rescuer in the mine; 1st miner sent up!; 11:17pm ET SAFE. 32 more to go; Pinera: “[Q]ue gratitud con Dios!”; 10/13 8:58pm Eastern: All miners out and safe!
9:30pm ET 10/13 All miners out and safe. Rejoice! Rescuers still need to return to surface…Video of the last miner and group leader joining in on Chilean national anthem here…
10:42am ET 14 now out. More unforgettable words of faith from 2nd miner Mario Sepulveda: “I was with God and I was with the Devil, they fought me but God won. He took me by my best hand, the hand of God and I held on to him,” Sepulveda said in an interview just one hour after he was extracted from the mine. “I never thought for one minute that God wouldn’t get me out of there,” he added….
2:16am ET Miner 4 Carlos Mamani Soliz is out and safe!
1:14am Eastern Miner 3 Juan Illanes Palma is out and safe!
12:15am ET Second miner Mario Sepúlveda Espinace is out of the mine, safe, and whooping it up! Brought rocks from mine to give to President Pinera and other officials. Hugged everyone in sight. Raised fist in triumph. Joy of life. Thrilling.
11:41pm ET…Chilean President Sebastian Pinera gives thanks to God: “Que emocion! Que felicidad! Que orgullo de ser Chileno! Y que gratitud con Dios!…11:17pm ET First miner reached the surface safely. Reunited briefly with family. Headed to hospital. 32 more to go, plus the rescuer in the mine. It’s going to be a long night. God bless them all – and God bless all those involved in the rescue effort, especially our American drillers, doctors, and engineers who gave their time, energy, muscle, and brainpower to make this possible…
10:57pm ET First miner is being sent up. Prayers!
10:45pm Eastern WOW. The first rescuer has made it safely inside the mine. The entire group is praying together.
10:11pm Eastern Second dry run complete..1st rescuer Manuel Gonzalez climbs into rescue capsule…Godspeed…Chilean president Sebastian Pinera is there to wish Gonzalez luck before he’s sent down…should know results in about 40 minutes…
8:59 Eastern Rescue capsule comes back to surface…Chilean engineers inspecting…El Pais reports door damage
8:48pm Eastern Final rescue capsule testing
8:39pm Eastern screen cap of live video from mine rescue scene – families awaiting their loved ones…rescue capsule testing underway
***ORIGINAL POST BELOW***…LIVE VIDEO OF RESCUE: CLICK HERE…Obama issues very brief statement acknowledging Americans’ contribution: “We are also proud of all of the Americans who have been working with our Chilean friends on the ground to do everything that we can to bring these miners home.”
10:01 AM EST In a different day and age, Jeff Hart would be the most famous American in our country right now. He would be honored at the White House. Schoolchildren would learn of his skill and heroism. But because Jeff Hart works in an industry under fire by the Obama administration, more people in Chile will celebrate this symbol of American greatness than in America itself.
Jeff Hart is a driller based in my home state of Colorado. The father of two has been drilling water wells in Afghanistan at U.S. Army bases. When the San Jose Mine in Chile collapsed in August, he flew to lend his renowned expertise to the rescue effort. As part of an amazing three-way race to the trapped miners, Hart drilled for 33 days straight and was first to reach the caved-in workers. The AP recounts the story — and what strikes me again and again is how the world turned to American ingenuity and American fortitude and American equipment and American enterprise to get the job done:
Jeff Hart was drilling water wells for the U.S. Army’s forward operating bases in Afghanistan when he got the call to fly to Chile. He spent the next 33 days on his feet, operating the drill that finally provided a way out Saturday for 33 trapped miners. “You have to feel through your feet what the drill is doing; it’s a vibration you get so that you know what’s happening,” explained Hart, a contractor from Denver, Colorado. A muscular, taciturn man with callused hands and a sunburned face, Hart normally pounds rock for oil or water. He’s used to extreme conditions while he works the hydraulic levers that guide the drills’ hammers…
…Geotec operations manager James Stefanic said he quickly assembled “a top of the line team” of drillers who are intimately familiar with the key equipment, including engineers from two Pennsylvania companies — Schramm Inc., which makes the T130 drill, and Center Rock Inc., which makes the drill bits.
…Standing before the levers, pressure meters and gauges on the T130′s control panel, Hart and the rest of the team faced many challenges in drilling the shaft. At one point, the drill struck a metal support beam in the poorly mapped mine, shattering its hammers. Fresh equipment had to be flown in from the United States and progress was delayed for days as powerful magnets were lowered to pull out the pieces…
…Hart has a home in Denver but works for long periods abroad as a contractor for the Layne Christensen company based in Mission Woods, Kansas.
The miners will ride back to the surface in a rescue capsule as early as today through the shaft Hart and his team drilled.
He told the Denver Post: “This is the most important thing I have done in my work life and probably the most important thing I will ever do.”
Hart’s company, Layne Christiansen, celebrated the achievement:
“Plan B” worked. Winning the three-way race to reach the 33 miners trapped in Chile since Aug. 5, drillers from Kansas City-based Layne Christensen Co. broke through at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“This success required the extra special knowledge and skills only our team could provide,” said Dave Singleton, water resource division president for Layne Christensen.
About two weeks after the collapse, Layne’s Latin American affiliate Geotec Boyles Bros. brought in a Schramm T130 tophead drill. Layne also sent in two drillers, Jeff Hart and Matt Staffel, who had been drilling water wells in Afghanistan to support U.S. troops stationed there. Assisting the drillers were two Spanish-speaking drilling helpers, Doug Reeves and Jorge Herrera, from Layne’s western region in the U.S.
Working as a team, Layne and Geotec drilled a 5-inch hole nearly 2,300 feet, reamed it to 12 inches and finally to 26 inches in diameter – large enough to accommodate the “Phoenix” rescue capsule. A cheer went up as families and rescue workers joined in a celebration when the drill broke through. “I’m on top of the world,” Hart told a TV reporter.
It took the drillers 33 days to reach the 33 miners. “Had Layne and Geotec not been there, it probably would have taken until Christmas for ‘Plan A’ or ‘Plan C’ to break through,” Singleton noted. “We cut more than two months from the original estimate.”
“It’s a first for our company to be involved in a rescue effort like this,” added President and CEO Andrew B. Schmitt. “It’s also noteworthy that we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary with our Latin American affiliates,” he said. In 1995 Layne merged with Christensen Boyles Corp. and became the joint-venture partner with the Boytec group of companies in Latin America.
Now in its third century of operations, Layne started in 1882 as a water-well drilling company in the Badlands of South Dakota. Headquartered in Mission Woods, Kan., a Kansas City suburb, the Nasdaq-traded company operates worldwide, providing products and services for the water, mineral, construction and energy markets.
Hart and his crew are headed back to Colorado and are eschewing the spotlight:
Hart decided to leave the mine now that his work is done and will be watching the rescue from a distance.
“I want to let this become the miners’ and their families’ story and let them have their time,” he said.
Chile won’t forget the quiet driller from Denver and his teammates (also from Colorado): Matt Staffel, Doug Reeves and Jorge Herrera. Neither should we.
Hart’s proud wife, Dora, is looking forward to welcoming them home:
“I was just in awe, really,” she said. “I am just really proud of what he has accomplished.
All of America should be.
I must also call your attention to NASA’s invaluable contributions:
Rescuers finished reinforcing the top of the 2,041-foot (622-meter) escape shaft early Monday, and the 13-foot (four-meter) tall capsule descended flawlessly in test runs. The white, blue and red capsule — the biggest of three built by Chilean navy engineers — was named Phoenix I for the mythical bird that rises from ashes.
The miners will be closely monitored from the moment they’re strapped into the claustrophobic steel tube to be hauled up the smooth-walled tunnel. For the last six hours before surfacing, they’ll drink a special high-calorie liquid diet prepared and donated by NASA, designed to keep them from vomiting as the rescue capsule rotates 10 to 12 times through curves in the 28-inch-diameter escape hole.
When Chilean rescuers begin pulling 33 trapped miners from their cramped quarters a half-mile below ground, perhaps beginning tonight, the work of NASA scientists will be put to the test.
For example, the miners, who have been trapped since Aug. 5, have been doing leg squats, taking salt tablets and loading up on fluids full of protein and electrolytes. Also, they will wear pressure stockings.
These techniques and others are designed to stabilize the miners’ blood pressure during the 20- to 30-minute trip to the surface. Doctors also are trying to prevent nausea.
The Chilean health minister has been consulting with NASA experts since the cave-in occurred. One of them is Dr. J.D. Polk, a native of Washington Court House, who is stationed in Houston as chief of space medicine.
Polk, who spent a week in Chile in late August, said fainting can be a problem when a person stands up after having been in a position with his or her knees locked for any long period.
“The idea is using pressure garments to force the fluid up, which helps keep the blood pressure up, so you don’t pass out with your knees locked,” said Polk, deputy chief medical officer at NASA.
Polk is former medical director for the Ohio Emergency Medical Services division. He was an emergency-room doctor at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland and the chief flight surgeon for the hospital’s Metro Life Flight.
Katrina vandenHeuvel of the left-wing rag, The Nation, gets the stupidest mine rescue tweet ever award for her abject ignorance of the PRIVATE American individuals and companies that spearheaded the Chilean rescue efforts. Read here if you must, but take an anti-emetic first.
This will cleanse away vandenHeuvel’s stupidity: Read this lovely post by The Anchoress inspired by rescued miner #2 Mario Sepulveda Espinace’s gift-giving upon surfacing safely.
The miners’ strong faith pulled them through, reports Christianity Today. Some in Washington would call them bitter clingers:
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Jimmy Sanchez, one of the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped for over two months in the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert, would like to make one small correction to all the stories about life in the mine:
“There are actually 34 of us,” the nineteen-year-old miner wrote in a letter sent up from the mine on Tuesday, “because God has never left us down here.”
Amid reports of squabbling on the surface among families of the trapped miners, some say things are much calmer underground as everyone prepares for this week’s attempt to bring them back up. The men have worked hard to keep their spirits buoyant during the ordeal, organizing themselves into a community and dividing up their living-room-sized space. Early on, they set aside a space to pray daily, and religious groups have converged on the mine to serve the miner’s spiritual needs. Once a supply line was established, Seventh-Day Adventists sent down mini-Bibles with magnifying glasses; the Jesus Film Project loaded 33 MP3 players with an audio adaptation of the famous JESUS film. A crucifix was sent down in August, and it’s said that miners also requested statues of Mary and the saints. The miners signed a flag which was presented to Pope Benedict this weekend.
Christian leaders of various denominations have come to the San Jose mine; the Guardian is rather bemused by all the activity, describing a “surge in religious fervor” as the rescue operation takes shape.
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