Author: Héctor Tobar
I don’t believe in miracles. But, despite my skepticism, I can’t think of a better piece of evidence for their existence than the survival of all 33 men trapped by the 2010 San José Mine disaster in Copiapó, Chile. Although, if God really did have a hand in saving the miners from almost certain death, one has to wonder why he didn’t bother to keep the mine from collapsing on them in the first place. But whatever your view on miracles, there’s no denying that the miners’ saga of 69 days spent under half a mile of solid rock is truly incredible. Chosen by the miners and granted exclusive access to their stories, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Héctor Tobar chronicles their tale of survival in Deep Down Dark. The book is exactly as good as it should be.
Part of a long and proud tradition of Chilean mining, the San José Mine – located in Chile’s barren Atacama Desert – was a lucrative source of copper and gold for over a hundred years. The brave men, toiling deep in the bowels of the earth, bringing mineral rich ore to the surface day after day, were well aware of the inherently dangerous nature of their job. But for reasons both financial and personal, they returned for their shifts, despite the difficulty of the labor and the frequent groaning of the rocks around them. But on August 5th, 2010, luck would run out for 33 members of the Chilean mining brotherhood. Weakened by the countless tunnels excavated over the decades, the mine finally collapsed, trapping the mend behind a rock as large as two Empire State Buildings. Amazingly, no one was injured, but there were no functional escape hatches, no one was going to be able to dig them out and they had enough food for only a few days.
If it wasn’t for the outcry of family, friends and supporters – both nationally and internationally – the men might have been left for dead. The idea that anyone could survive such an enormous collapse seemed entirely implausible, but despite the long odds a rescue plan was initiated and the rest is mining history.