On August 5th, the day I was informed that my job at Intel was ending because of bureaucratic red tape, at the end of August, there was a cave-in in a deep-rock mine in Chile. Not contemporaneous, of course, just an annoying coincidence. A downer in the news to underscore the end of a downer work day, and I chastised myself for thinking of it that way.
It was a half mile below the surface, and through extremely difficult rock, but they knew that if there were survivors they would be in one place.
Seventeen days later, August 22nd, hope was reborn for the families of those men. It was, in some ways, an unbelievable miracle - there were 33 men alive and, while not necessarily WELL, they had survived for seventeen days on rations that were supposed to last only 48 hours. None of them, it seems, had lost hope. They waited, and the pipeline was driven. They were sent food. Water. Supplies, all along a narrow tube. Food concentrates, medical supplies, and one assumes, lights. And communication with families and lovers, and in at least one case, families AND lovers. Then came the hard engineering: How to get to them. How and where to drill the hole so it wouldn't collapse, wouldn't endanger them further, and WOULD reach them.
It took until Tuesday the 12th of October for the rescue tunnel to reach the miners. They were removed one at a time, after being reinforced by a food concentrate, hooked to an oxygen mask with medical sensors, but not sedated - because if something went wrong they would have to go back down into the mine, and that would require being able to move on their own. It took some time before they started bringing them up, but, today, the last man came up from the mine.
Chile refused to count the cost as "too high" ... they could have. The President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, was there to greet and welcome them. The last one out was the shift foreman who kept them all organized, sane. He insisted on being the last one rescued, so his people would get out.
There was some incongruous political speechification, but it wasn't too bad, and really, they didn't overdo it. The men are being taken to a hospital where they will be given medical and psychological care.
I know it's not really the same, but the feeling is the same: like Lazarus, they have been drawn forth from the grave and are alive again. Rejoice.