Friday, October 15, 2010

while the cameras were off….

Just one day after disaster was averted in the Chilean mine accident, a miner in Chile was killed in another mine.

An accident in central Chile on Thursday night reminded Ramirez's countrymen of his job's potential peril. A 26-year-old miner was crushed by rockfall at the Boton de Oro mine in Petorca state, its governor, Gonzalo Miquel, told state TV.

I don’t know anyone who wasn’t transfixed by the Chilean miners who were buried a half mile underground for 70 days, and the remarkable rescue mission that ensued.

For most of the night Tuesday, and some of Wednesday, I was watching as each miner came up in a bullet shaped cage.  Each was allowed to meet his family, or in one case mistress, as they emerged from their personal hell.

Each person’s personal story was recited.  It reminded me of when the Gemini space capsules used to land in the ocean, bobbing in the waves, and we would all hope the astronauts would emerge unscathed.

Mining is dangerous work.  Our need, or want for things underground, both precious and not, makes people risk their lives for this stuff.  And, each time we see one of these stories, stories of safety violations, not one or two, but many, emerge.

In China, thousands die yearly in the coal mines.  Just earlier this year, 29 men lost their lives in West Virginia.  Mining deaths worldwide are an everyday event.

We don’t think about the miners very often.  Often, they are from the social underbelly, the lower class that doesn’t have the education or assets to do work that allows them to see daylight.  It’s time we start. 

I don’t know what it’s going to take to fix this, but we need to do something.

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