There have been four or five books published in Spanish on the San Jose mine rescue, and one in English by a long-time Chile resident, Jonathan Franklin, who came through London this past week for the UK launch of his book, The 33 (entitled 33 Men in the US).
He said he gained his enviable behind-the-scenes access to the rescue efforts when he happened to run into an acquaintance at the Santiago zoo, who gave him the rescue team’s cell phone numbers. Upon arrival at the mine site, he filled out a form for a rescue team credential, stating that he was a writer, obtained a rescue team credential and for most of the period had a front row view of the operation. And he was responsible for obtaining the sunglasses worn by the miners as they emerged from the mine: Franklin happened to know an Oakley representative and sent an e mail suggesting the company ship 35 pairs of sunglasses to Chile—one for each miner and two spares.
He said most of the miners are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is hardly surprising. The one exception is Jose Henriquez, the evangelical preacher who led his trapped colleagues in prayer. Henriquez did a speaking tour of UK churches this month before joining 23 of the miners and their families on a trip to Israel.
I asked Franklin if there had been any serious safety improvements at Chilean mines since the accident. He said that while the government has tripled its mine safety budget, such efforts are undermined by high world copper prices, which encourage illegal mining operations.
According to Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geologia y Mineria, 44 mine workers were killed last year, up from 35 in 2009 and 43 the previous year. The department’s accident chart lists two accidents in January of this year and two more in February, with four mine workers killed:(http://www.sernageomin.cl/index.php?.option=com_content&task=view&id=144&Itemid=209