3 rescues Chile miners could take hope from

With 33 Chilean miners trapped nearly a half-mile underground since Aug. 5, the country might take hope from past successful rescue missions. Here are three examples from China, America, and the Philippines.

America: Quecreek Mine rescue

Gene J. Puskar/Reuters
Miners at Pennsylvania's Quecreek Mine embrace July 28, 2002 after nine of their co-workers were rescued after being trapped underground for three days.

In 2002, nine miners were trapped underground for three days at Pennsylvania's Quecreek Mine, which had flooded with water. Rescue efforts required speed and ingenuity as the waters rose and threatened to drown the miners.

A drilling rig initially bored a hole through 240 feet of rock ( the Chilean miners are trapped 2,200 feet underground) to the trapped miners to provide them oxygen. But the bore hold also allowed rescuers to pump air into the shaft to create pressurized air pocket that prevented the water from entering, according to the Pittsburgh-based Post Gazette. The newspaper continued, in its 10-part series on the rescue efforts:

"For a while, mine-safety workers toyed with the idea of sending divers into the mine. They might be able to organize such a daring rescue mission before the super drill could get cranked up. But the danger of swimming through 1.6 miles of flooded shafts seemed overwhelming, even for the best frogmen."

Instead, a rescue hole was drilled into the rock, and after three days pierced their hideout on July 28. Rescuers lowered down a tube-shaped cage, which the miners climbed inside one by one.

Mining remains one of America's most dangerous jobs, despite improvements in mine safety. Implementation of stricter inspection and safety standards have cut the number of deaths from a high of 3,242 in 1907 to 18 in 2009, according to statistics from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

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