End in Sight

Chile Rescue Shaft Passes Safety Test

So far so good. An empty escape capsule was sent down the rescue shaft to within 40 feet of the trapped miners and successfully pulled back to the surface on Monday. "We didn't send it (all the way) down because we could risk that someone will jump in," said Mining Minister Laurence Golborne, smiling. By midnight Tuesday the concrete surrounding the metal sleeve at the opening of the tunnel will have set and rescuers can start bringing the miners to the surface. But after being trapped for over two months, the 33 miners will be in for a shock when they get out. Along with family members, over 750 journalists are waiting at the surface; book and movie deals are pending, invitations to presidential palaces, and all-expenses-paid vacations have already been offered; and lawsuits against the mine owners and the government regulators are in the works. "They're in for the surprise of their lives,” says Brandon Fisher, who, as president of Center Rock, Inc., has worked on this rescue, as well as the one in Pennsylvania in 2002. “From here on out, their lives will have changed," Fisher predicted. "There aren't too many of those guys who get along because of all the attention, the lawsuits, the movie deals. Once money gets involved it gets ugly."