The Chilean miners story: trapped for months in the Atacama Desert.

It has been amazing. Sixty nine days they were trapped there at the San Jose mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert with only their colleagues for company in gruelling conditions with just minimum rations, separated from their loved ones, nothing much to talk about, and having to make a prat of yourselves in front of the unending stare of television addicts all around the World.

Yes, it was tough for those television news guys stuck in the middle of nowhere for so long with nothing much to report until today with nothing much to look at except for hours of “special” coverage of a small wheel turning on top of a hole.

That is not quite fair. There were those interviews with dour mining experts and some entertaining media psychologists and, of course, let’s not forget all those glimpses of Chile’s charismatic and television friendly president, Sebastian Pinera, once the owner of 90% shares in Chile’s public service television stations and now soaring in the opinion polls as he staged managed this, don’t get me wrong here, impressive rescue plan.

Just before the announcement that the very lengthy rescue was to begin, we had the thrilling pictures of a giant Chile flag being positioned by the mine opening and then, equally exciting pictures of it being moved again after the world’s tv crews complained that it was blocking their camera angles.

Those TV crews needn’t have worried about getting their shots because President Pinera had set up a massive team of cameras above and below ground to ensure every moment of this adventure made it onto the World’s television sets.

As for those poor stranded guys, the reporters for the BBC 24 hour news coverage, well they had never been stuck in such a hole before in their lives. they had to talk and keep talking for not just hours but days, weeks and then months. “It is getting dark here as its gets near to nighttime…” “the families of the miners are waiting anxiously in the hope that their loved ones will be brought safely to the surface….” “it is geting light now here in the Atacama desert as the dawn breaks….” “that paint on the little shed over there is beginning to dry, I think…..”

And then some drama…..”amazing pictures! Just look at that! Yes some of the families are shouting and waving at us over here….yes, there are some amazing pictures on the television monitors. pictures of the BBC news report is actually being relayed onto the screens here in a desert in the middle of Chile. Amazing! You can see us standing here reporting this story!”

Hmm, quite.

The rescue, which is going on as I write this, is amazing and it is wonderful that those thirty three men are not going to die horribly underground. The engineering has been impressive too drilling as near to a straight line as is possible to a distance of nearly half a mile to a precise point. The courage and endurance of those miners to is awe-inspiring. they have been stuck together in what must be like a rather grimy sauna for months now.

It is taking a long time though. those painfully slow journeys up through the hole in the tiny space capsule will still be going on this time tomorrow and, hopefully, all the men will be recovered safely.

Do we have to hear the near hysterical and deadly dull commentary of endless news reporters babbling on about nothing for days? Do they have to pander to the Chilean president’s self-aggrandizing publicity machine? and do those poor miners have to be subjected to the kind of over-exposure that is usually reserved for the mindlessly celebrity-seeking contestants in reality tv shows like Big Brother?

My hero is that American mining engineer who devised the plan known as Plan B. He supervised the drilling of that hole for the rescue capsule and, when it was completed, he told the press that his job was done and he was going home. No nonsense, no fuss and no media frenzy.

Let’s celebrate these lives being saved and the achievements of the rescue teams but, please, if you have nothing better to do than spend sixty-nine days watching this news coverage, you really should try to get your own lives back and let’s leave these poor guys alone when they are all safely back at home. I can only hope that President Pinera isn’t planning a second series.

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