How It Works

How were the Chilean miners rescued?

For 69 days, 33 miners lived in dark, damp and humid conditions, pushing the known boundaries of human mental and physical strength to their limits. After the entrance to their mine collapsed, they awaited the most high-profile rescue operation of modern times, but how were they were freed? Read on below to see just how the miners escaped.

The rescue capsule which was used to free the men trapped in the San Jose mine, credit: Hugo Infante/Government of Chile

Trapped
The section of the mine in which the miners were trapped was 720 metres underground.

Boreholes
To find the miners, rescuers had to drill a number of experimental boreholes.

Air
Natural ventilation within the mine gave the trapped men enough oxygen to survive.

Rations
Sustenance was scarce. Each man had only two teaspoons of tuna, a sip of milk and half a biscuit every 48 hours until they were found.

Note
Amazingly, after 17 days of searching, rescuers found a note attached to one of the borehole probes written by the miners:

“All 33 of us are well inside the shelter”

With the men located, escape shafts could begin to be drilled.

An aerial view of the site of the mine, credit: DigitalGlobe