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Trapped - The Chile Miners' Story

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Caroline Mallan | 18:01 UK time, Monday, 18 October 2010

Trapped alive longer and deeper underground than anybody in history, the 33 Chilean miners somehow survived to be rescued.

For weeks, Panorama followed and engineers at the surface as they worked to free the men. But should they ever have been trapped in the first place? Reporter Dan McDougall reveals new evidence of massive safety problems in the mine being ignored just weeks before the collapse.

During his weeks spent covering this story, Dan McDougall corresponded with trapped miner Edison Pena. The 34-year-old became known as "the Runner" after he coped with the long wait for rescue by running through the remaining tunnels and exercising.

In an interview with Panorama after he was freed along with his colleagues last week, Edison Pena said he feels that he is a changed man and "more human" for his ordeal.

We welcome your comments on this episode of Panorama.


  • Comment number 1.

  • Comment number 2.

    Engrossing - but as an ex-mine surveyor I was astonished, am I correct in assuming there were no underground surveys done at the San Jose mine? these would have enabled the target location to have been known and to be able to drill the rescue borehole immediately. In Britain every underground coal mine had a rescue borehole survey network to set out the surface position of a rescue rig in an emergency and to direct the hole to any point in the mine workings below 500 metres, accurate to less than 100mm - where were the mine surveyors?

  • Comment number 3.

    A world wide story of course, but i think should of been given only bbc news coverage.What a waste of panorama resources more pressing issues in this country stop trying to follow the reality tv storys !

  • Comment number 4.

    I believe the San Jose mine was groaning and creaking for weeks before the collapse as an ex-miner this happens when mining in stressed ground, on one occasion I experienced this in a British mine working near a large fault. I was in the underground workings one day when the workings suddenly went very quiet - within 24 hours 240 metres of roadway with a sandstone roof had caved in and flattened the mine road en-masse, fortunately I was the last man to have been in the heading before it went - it happens and nothing could have held up the roof at San Jose if the ground had become overstressed. The diagrams show the mine to have worked deeper in a corkscrew manner following the mineral, if true this would have placed each subsequent depth of mine roadway in the pressure arch from the road above - fatal mining - one geological fault or area of weak ground and the end is inevitable. That is why there should always be a second means of egress from a mine, fundamental. Really lucky guys to have walk away from San Jose.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am very concerned that these men who have suffered so much are being hounded mercilessly by the media. In a sick kind of voyeurism, I have seen many stories where reporters continue to press the miners for details of the conflicts that may have existed, despite their repeated desire to keep "what happened in the mine down in the mine."

    If we truly care of the fate of these individuals, can we not be grateful of their survival and then LEAVE THEM IN PEACE? Why foment problems by looking for sensationalist stories of the divisions and arguments they may have had? My goodness, they were abandonded and starving for 17 days, and trapped another 8 weeks. Do you really think they sat there singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" the whole time?

    It's sick to want lurid details of their trials. I really hope that Panorama is respectful in their approach with Edison and that all the media leave these people to rebuild their lives.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have just watched the very moving story of Edison Pena

    I pray that Panorama has not exploited Edison or his family in the making of this programme and that a commercial payment has been made to the miners fund for the benefit of all the miners and their families.

  • Comment number 7.

    Great pictures from inside the mine, but took me long time to find the link to the pictures from panorama website, the website it's so dark and the blue links very hard to see since there are lots of links!

  • Comment number 8.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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