The rescue of 33 miners from the depths of a copper mine in Chile is underway, and the world is watching as each of them takes a half-mile trip up from the cave that's been their home for 69 days. The rescue process involves closing each miner into a small capsule and hauling him to the surface where friends, family, Chilean politicians and members of the media await.
Jonathan Franklin, a reporter for the Washington Post who is at the scene, reports that the strongest, healthiest miner will be the first one to ascend through the chute because he has a better ability to adapt if something goes wrong. The last miner hauled up will be the one in the group who has become the leader; he will wait to make sure everyone else is out safely before leaving the miners' temporary home behind and ascending to the surface, where he will greet Chile's president.
Special precautions are also being taken to make sure the miners don't have health problems as a result of the rapid change in their environment. They're wearing compression socks to help with the pressure change between their underground camp and the surface, and they've each received a high-calorie drink to prepare them for the stress of traveling through the chute.
Miller says the miners were nervous before their ascent, since they requested that many more cigarettes than usual be delivered through the small chute that has been their delivery method for food and supplies for the last month and a half.
"The last [miner] is like the captain of a boat. If you think about it, his men have been marooned, he's been with them in a lifeboat for some time now. He will make sure his charges get off, and then he will say goodbye to the cave, he will come up and then upon coming up, he will approach [the Chilean president] and he will give him the charge and say, now it's your turn." - Jonathan Franklin, Washington Post reporter
"[The miners] are gathered near the hole, they're very nervous. They've been asking for many more cigarettes than usual today, they have a very strange delivery system about the size of an orange, a tube where all their food and supplies are sent down." - Jonathan Franklin, Washington Post reporter
1. What is a mine?
2. What kinds of substances do humans mine for? What do we use those substances for?
3. Why can mining be dangerous?
1. What do you think the reporter means when he says that the head miner will tell the Chilean president "it's your turn?" What do you think the miner expects the president to do?
2. What mine disasters have occurred in the U.S.? What do we mine for in the U.S.?
3. Why do you think the rescued miners might have trouble adjusting to life above ground again? How do you think living underground may have affected them?