Race to save Chilean miners trapped underground from spiralling into depression continues
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Race to save Chilean miners trapped underground from spiralling into depression continues



Thursday, September 2, 2010

It has emerged that the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground after the mine they were working in collapsed could be brought to the surface in a shorter time than was initially feared. While officials publicly announced that the men would not be brought to the surface until Christmas, sources inside technical meetings have revealed that they could in fact be on the surface by early November. The news comes as families were allowed to speak by radio-telephone to their trapped loved ones on Sunday. Over the weekend, video images filmed by the miners emerged showing the miners playing dominoes at a table and singing the Chilean national anthem. The miners also used the camera to send video messages to their families on the surface, saying that they regularly broke into tears, but were feeling better having received food and water.

The grainy nightvision images, filmed on a high definition camcorder that was sent down a small shaft to the mine, show the men in good spirits, chanting “long live Chile, and long live the miners.” They are unshaven and stripped to the waist because of the heat underground, and are seen wearing white clinical trousers that have been designed to keep them dry. Giving a guided tour of the area they are occupying, Mario Sepúlveda, one of the miners, explains they have a “little cup to brush our teeth”, and a place where they pray each day. “We have everything organized,” he tells the camera. Gesturing to the table in the center of the room, he says that “we meet here every day. We plan, we have assemblies here every day so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33.” Another unidentified miner asks to rescuers, “get us out of here soon, please.” A thermometer is shown in the video, reading 29.5C (85F).

As the film continues, it becomes evident that the miners have stuck a poster of a topless woman on the wall. The miners appear shy, and one man puts his hand to his face, presumably dazzled by the light mounted on the cameraman’s helmet. One miner sent a message to his family. “Be calm”, he says. “We’re going to get out of here. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts.” Another said that the miners are “sure that there are people here in Chile that are big people, that are powerful people, that are intelligent people, and they have the technology and they will all work together to get us out of here.” Speaking to the camera, one says: “we have had the great fortune that trapped in this mine there are good, professional people. We have electricians, we have mechanics, we have machine operators and we will let you know that while you are working to rescue us on the surface, we are down here ready to help you too.” It has been reported that Mario Gómez, 63, has become the group’s “spiritual leader”, having worked in the mines for over fifty years. He has requested that materials to build a shrine be sent down to the cavern.

Upon seeing the video in a private screening, family members, who are living in a small village of tents at the entrance to the San José copper-gold mine—which they have named Camp Hope—were elated. “He’s skinny, bearded and it was painful to see him with his head hanging down, but I am so happy to see him alive”, said Ruth Contreras, the mother of Carlos Bravo, who is trapped in the mine. The video, of which only a small portion has been released to the public, shows the miners, many of them wearing helmets, cracking jokes and thanking the rescuers for their continued efforts. The supplies are being sent to the men through a small shaft only twelve centimeters wide, and a laboratory has been set up with the purpose of designing collapsible cots and miniature sandwiches, which can be sent down such a narrow space.

CNN reported on Friday that “officials are splitting the men into two shifts so one group sleeps while the other works or has leisure time .. On average, each man has lost 22 pounds (10 kilograms) since they became trapped three weeks ago, and dehydration remains a threat. But a survey of the men indicates that at least nine miners are still too overweight to fit through the proposed rescue shaft. Initially, the miners survived by draining water from a water-cooled piece of equipment. To stay hydrated in the 90-degree mine, each miner must drink eight or nine pints of water per day.”

But while there are jubilant celebrations on the surface that the miners are alive, officials are now nervous that the miners could become depressed, trapped in a dark room the size of a small apartment. Chilean health minister Jaime Mañalich said that, on the video, he saw the telltale signs of depression. “They are more isolated, they don’t want to be on the screen, they are not eating well”, he said. “I would say depression is the correct word.” He said that doctors who had watched the video had observed the men suffering from “severe dermatological problems.” Dr. Rodrigo Figueroa, head of the trauma, stress and disaster unit at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, explained that “following the euphoria of being discovered, the normal psychological reaction would be for the men to collapse in a combination of fatigue and stress … People who are trained for emergencies – like these miners – tend to minimize their own needs or to ignore them. When it is time to ask for help, they don’t.” NASA has advised emergency workers that entertaining the miners would be a good idea. They are to be sent a television system complete with taped football matches. Another dilemma facing Mañalich is whether the miners should be permitted to smoke underground. While nicotine gum has been delivered to the miners, sending down cigarettes is a plan that has not been ruled out.

With the news that drilling of the main rescue tunnel was expected to begin on Monday, officials have informed the media that they hope to have the miners out of the mine by Christmas—but sources with access to technical meetings have suggested that the miners could actually be rescued by the first week of November. A news report described the rescue plan—”the main focus is a machine that bores straight down to 688m and creates a chimney-type duct that could be used to haul the miners out one by one in a rescue basket. A second drilling operation will attempt to intercept a mining tunnel at a depth of roughly 350m. The miners would then have to make their way through several miles of dark, muddy tunnels and meet the rescue drill at roughly the halfway point of their current depth of 688m.” Iván Viveros Aranas, a Chilean policeman working at Camp Hope, told reporters that Chile “has shown a unity regardless of religion or social class. You see people arriving here just to volunteer, they have no relation at all to these families.”

But over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the “miners who have astonished the world with their discipline a half-mile underground will have to aid their own escape — clearing 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday … The work will require about a half-dozen men working in shifts 24 hours a day.” Andrés Sougarret, a senior engineer involved in operating the drill said that “the miners are going to have to take out all that material as it falls.”

The families of those trapped were allowed to speak to them by radio-telephone on Sunday—a possibility that brought reassurance both the miners and those on the surface. The Intendant of the Atacama Region, Ximena Matas, said that there had been “moments of great emotion.” She continued to say that the families “listened with great interest and they both felt and realized that the men are well. This has been a very important moment, which no doubt strengthens their [the miners’] morale.” The phone line is thought to be quite temperamental, but it is hoped that soon, those in the mine and those in Camp Hope will be able to talk every day. “To hear his voice was a balm to my heart … He is aware that the rescue is not going to happen today, that it will take some time. He asked us to stay calm as everything is going to be OK … He sounded relaxed and since it was so short I didn’t manage to ask anything. Twenty seconds was nothing”, said said Jessica Cortés, who spoke to her husband Víctor Zamora, who was not even a miner, but a vehicle mechanic. “He went in that day because a vehicle had broken down inside the mine … At first they told us he had been crushed [to death].”

Esteban Rojas sent up a letter from inside the mine, proposing to his long-time partner Jessica Yáñez, 43. While they have officially been married for 25 years, their wedding was a civil service—but Rojas has now promised to have a church ceremony which is customary in Chile. “Please keep praying that we get out of this alive. And when I do get out, we will buy a dress and get married,” the letter read. Yáñez told a newspaper that she thought he was never going to ask her. “We have talked about it before, but he never asked me … He knows that however long it takes, I’ll wait for him, because with him I’ve been through good and bad.”


Over 60 illegal miners die in South African mine fire
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Over 60 illegal miners die in South African mine fire



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Over 60 miners were killed in an abandoned gold mine shaft near Welkom, in the Free State province of South Africa, after a fire broke out inside the mine.

36 bodies from the Harmony Gold mining company Eland mine shaft were brought up earlier on the weekend from depths up to 1.4 kilometers (1 mi). On Tuesday, 25 more bodies were recovered by other illegal workers.

“We suspect there was a fire on the 18th of May. We never saw any smoke. Over the weekend [30 May] we were informed by other illegal miners that people had died,” said Tom Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Harmony’s South Region, “The bodies are not burnt. It seems more of a case of gas or smoke inhalation. I don’t know if there are any more bodies down there, we just have to wait.”

The workers may have died from poisonous gasses, smoke inhalation, suffocation, cave-ins or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Harmony gold mine will not send anyone in to the mine as the conditions are extremely dangerous and abandoned shafts are without safety equipment. Illegal workers may gain access bypassing security at one mine site, and exit via a series of interconnected underground tunnels many miles away.

Harmony is internationally the fifth largest gold mining company and has bought up old, abandoned mines.

Police were seeking relatives to help identify the bodies, and are instigating an investigation into the circumstances.

Almost 300 “gold pirates” were arrested over the past two weeks at the Eland mine shaft alone. Thousands of illegal workers can be underground, and remain working for weeks and months continuously. “These are ex-miners and unemployed people – we need to target the syndicates,” said Smith.

There are over 4.18 million unemployed in South Africa due to the economic decline, and another 1 million may soon join the ranks.

Susan Shabangu, the minister of mining, extended her condolences.

Welkom, with a population of over 400,000 is located 160 kilometers (99 mi) northeast of Bloemfontein, the provincial capital.


Oil spill hits Australia’s Sunshine coastline
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Oil spill hits Australia’s Sunshine coastline



Sunday, March 15, 2009

200,000 litres of oil leaked into waters off the coast of Brisbane from the Pacific Adventurer when their fuel tanks were damaged in rough seas on Wednesday. The figure is about ten times higher than the original estimate of twenty thousand litres of oil. The devastating diesel oil spill has spread along 60 kilometres (37 miles) of the Queensland coast. In addition, 31 containers with 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser flew overboard during the violent storm.

Questions are being asked why the Hong Kong cargo ship was out in seas with nine meter waves caused by Cyclone Hamish, a Category 5 tropical cyclone, as well as why the fertiliser containers were not properly secured. One of the overboard containers ruptured the hull of the Pacific Adventurer, causing between 30 to 100 tonnes of oil to spew from the severely damaged ship.

If the ammonium nitrate mixes with the heavy oil, an explosion could occur. None of the containers have been recovered. Some of these may float, but it is believed that they may have sunk which then may cause algal blooms.

Disaster zones have been declared at Bribie and Moreton Islands, and along the Sunshine coast.

The vessel’s owner, Swire Shipping, reported that a second leak began on Friday, when the ship began listing after docking at Hamilton for repairs. “As full soundings of the vessel’s tanks were being taken at the port to determine how much oil had leaked from the vessel, a small quantity of fuel oil escaped from the Pacific Adventurer,” it stated. The ship was brought upright, and a recovery vessel was used to suck up the oil from the water. The leak produced a 500m-long oil slick down the Brisbane River. Booms were placed around this oil spill so that a skimmer could clean up the second spill.

Swire Shipping could face clean up costs of AU$100,000 a day as well as fines up to AU$1.5million (US$977,000; £703,000) if found guilty of environmental breaches or negligence.

Sunshine Coast beaches are slowly starting to be reopened. The beach of Mooloolaba was still closed following reports of burning sensations from swimmers. 12 beaches remain closed; however, 13 have been reopened.

Over 300 state government and council workers are using buckets, rakes and spades in the clean up effort. Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbott says the majority will be gone by Sunday afternoon. The full environmental impact on wildlife is not yet known. One turtle and seven pelicans have been found covered in oil.

There are concerns that the drinking water of Moreton Island is at risk, as the island uses water from the underground water table near the oil spill site.

“Every bucketload of contaminated sand has to be removed from the island by barge, and each bucketload from a front-end loader weighs about one tonne. It’s just an impossible task,” said Mr Trevor Hassard of the Tangalooma Dolphin Education Centre.

The commercial fishing industry has suffered from the incident. Trawlers won’t resume operations until Sunday evening, and any catches will be tested for human consumption.


Over 60 illegal miners die in South African mine fire
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Over 60 illegal miners die in South African mine fire



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Over 60 miners were killed in an abandoned gold mine shaft near Welkom, in the Free State province of South Africa, after a fire broke out inside the mine.

36 bodies from the Harmony Gold mining company Eland mine shaft were brought up earlier on the weekend from depths up to 1.4 kilometers (1 mi). On Tuesday, 25 more bodies were recovered by other illegal workers.

“We suspect there was a fire on the 18th of May. We never saw any smoke. Over the weekend [30 May] we were informed by other illegal miners that people had died,” said Tom Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Harmony’s South Region, “The bodies are not burnt. It seems more of a case of gas or smoke inhalation. I don’t know if there are any more bodies down there, we just have to wait.”

The workers may have died from poisonous gasses, smoke inhalation, suffocation, cave-ins or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Harmony gold mine will not send anyone in to the mine as the conditions are extremely dangerous and abandoned shafts are without safety equipment. Illegal workers may gain access bypassing security at one mine site, and exit via a series of interconnected underground tunnels many miles away.

Harmony is internationally the fifth largest gold mining company and has bought up old, abandoned mines.

Police were seeking relatives to help identify the bodies, and are instigating an investigation into the circumstances.

Almost 300 “gold pirates” were arrested over the past two weeks at the Eland mine shaft alone. Thousands of illegal workers can be underground, and remain working for weeks and months continuously. “These are ex-miners and unemployed people – we need to target the syndicates,” said Smith.

There are over 4.18 million unemployed in South Africa due to the economic decline, and another 1 million may soon join the ranks.

Susan Shabangu, the minister of mining, extended her condolences.

Welkom, with a population of over 400,000 is located 160 kilometers (99 mi) northeast of Bloemfontein, the provincial capital.


Loss of integrity in underground city tunnel causes evacuation of Downtown Montreal
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Loss of integrity in underground city tunnel causes evacuation of Downtown Montreal



Sunday, August 26, 2007

A one-inch settlement of the roof of The Bay tunnel to the Montreal Metro caused authorities to evacuate 12 blocks of the Montreal downtown core.

Several people noticed water infiltration in the tunnel over the last few days. On Friday, August 24, at 1 p.m., while investigating another water infiltration incident, The Bay employees noticed that the ceiling of the tunnel portion of The Bay’s basement sales area had descended one inch over a 7 meter length. They subsequently called police. The police and firefighters evacuated the basement of the downtown Bay store. The police closed de Maisonneuve Boulevard from Aylmer Street to Union Street, over the area of the crack.

At 4 p.m., firefighters evacuated the Parkade Montreal Building and The Bay Department Store after finding pieces of concrete falling from the Parkade Montreal structure, a multi-story carpark with five levels of offices on top. They also evacuated the downtown portion of the Line 1 / Green Line of the Montreal Metro subway, from Lionel-Groulx to Berri-UQAM stations, and evacuated the McGill metro station, which is situated below The Bay tunnel. After consulting with city engineers, Centre 2001, the loading dock of the Bay and its Hertz car rental agency, Les Promenades Cathedrale underground shopping centre and office tower, and a neighbouring office tower to the Parkade were also evacuated. Police cordoned off an area from Bleury Street in the east to University Street in the west, and from Ste-Catherine Street in the south to President Kennedy Street to the north.

The closure of the Metro caused havoc to the Friday afternoon rush hour, as over 40,000 people regularly use the Green Line (Line 1) every day. Montreal Transit Corporation workers issued directions during the day, though some may not have been informed of a provisionary bus service to replace the lost subway service. Loudspeakers announced that commuters should use the unaffected Orange Line (Line 2), which has lines between 5 and 10 blocks south of Line 1 (Green Line), and also connects to Lionel-Groulx and Berri-UQAM stations.

The downtown area is intended to remain closed for at least the weekend, along with portions of the underground city, or RESO. The tunnel was built in 1966. For the last few days, city work crews have been working above the slab in question, digging a one meter trench to install a median and segregate a new bike path on de Maisonneuve Boulevard. The tunnel roof lies five meters below street level.

Residents of Montreal are frustrated with the crumbling infrastructure in and around the city, including the collapse of the de la Concorde Boulevard overpass over Autoroute 19 expressway last year, the shattering of a column holding up the Autoroute 720 Ville Marie elevated expressway last month, and other incidents.


Transport for London wins first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against graffiti vandal
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Transport for London wins first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against graffiti vandal



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Billy Murrell, a persistent graffiti vandal from South East London, has become the first recipient of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) granted to Transport for London (TfL) by Greenwich Magistrates. The civil order also bans him from the top deck of buses throughout England and Wales for three years.

Murrell, a 17-year-old from Plumstead, has a history of convictions for criminal damage on public transport, including vandalising a Tube carriage in Brixton station and for damaging buses and other public property using marker pens.

This is Transport for London’s first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against a graffiti vandal — TfL was granted the power to apply for Asbos by the Home Secretary in September 2006.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Order was issued at Greenwich Magistrates Court on 12 September and also bans him from carrying any permanent marker pens or any glass cutting equipment on London Underground, railway property or any other transport provider’s property.

Metropolitan and Transport police have been made aware of Murrell’s Asbo, and have distributed his photo.

In detail, Murrell is prohibited from:

  • Entering any depot, siding or other part of London Underground property or railway property or any transport providers property which is not expressly open to the public whether on payment or otherwise throughout England and Wales
  • Carrying the following articles, in any area specified (above) or in any public place, namely any form of unset paint in any form of container, any form of permanent marker pen, any form of shoe dye or permanent ink in any form of container, any form of paint stripper in any form of container, any form of grinding stone, glass cutting equipment, glass etching solution or paste, throughout England and Wales
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or encourage any person who was attempting or committing any form of unlawful damage towards any property not belonging to or under the direct authorised control of the defendant throughout England and Wales
  • Travelling on the top deck of the any public transport bus within England and Wales

If without reasonable excuse the defendant does anything which he is prohibited from doing by this order, he shall be liable to a detention and training order, which has a maximum term of 24 months – 12 months of which is custodial and 12 months in the community

Upon turning 18 he will be liable to imprisonment up to five years.


Wikinews interviews Frank Moore, independent candidate for US President
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Wikinews interviews Frank Moore, independent candidate for US President



Saturday, March 1, 2008

While nearly all coverage of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third party candidates. These parties represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

Wikinews has impartially reached out to these candidates, throughout the campaign. We now interview independent Presidential candidate Frank Moore, a performance artist.


Transit strike affects 100,000 in Helsinki
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Transit strike affects 100,000 in Helsinki



Monday, March 6, 2006

In Helsinki, the Finnish trade union for bus and truck drivers has gone on strike on Sunday evening, mainly over the use of part-time labor. The strike is estimated to affect 100,000 people in the capital area, crowding the remaining transit system on Monday morning. The strike is halting almost half of all bus traffic in and around Helsinki, especially hurting travellers commuting from outlying cities Espoo and Vantaa, where over 60% of bus traffic will be stopped.

The strike also affects 4,000 of Finland’s 55,000 delivery trucks, as well as waste management in many areas. The strike is not affecting trains, trams or the underground, but heavy crowding is to be expected. Authorities are also warning of traffic jams during rush-hours as people use personal cars instead of public transportation.


Chilean miners rescue to begin on Tuesday, Minister Mañalich announces
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Chilean miners rescue to begin on Tuesday, Minister Mañalich announces



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Health Minister of Chile, Jaime Mañalich, announced on Friday the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped in San José Mine, Copiapó is to begin this Tuesday, October 12.

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne announced that the tunnel the miners will ascend “will be ready in the next 24 hours. [The tunnel] could be done by this night or tomorrow’s early morning.” However, he couldn’t “assure an hour because it is not exact.”

“The rescue will take place between three and eight days (after finishing the perforation), depending on the decisions that are taken about the encamisado (process of coating the tunnel with a metal pipe),” Golborne added. He also said the miners “have no anxiety,” saying that “they’ve waited a few months now for their rescue and are aware that they will have to wait some more days.”

The thirty-three miners have been trapped at the bottom of San José Mine, Copiapó, Atacama Region, Chile since August 5. It was discovered they were alive on August 22, when they sent the note “We are fine in the shelter the 33 [of us].”


Sadr City suicide bomber uses fruit truck to kill 66 on market day
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Sadr City suicide bomber uses fruit truck to kill 66 on market day



Sunday, July 2, 2006

A suicide bomber exploded a truck bomb in the crowded Al-Ula market in Sadr City in Baghdad on Saturday, killing 66 people and injuring over a 100.

‘At the beginning of this market, the criminal blew up his dynamite-packed truck after trying to go over the pavement,’ said Iraq’s Deputy Health Minister Sabah al-Hussein.

The explosion happened when a police patrol was passing by and caused heavy casualties in the morning market rush. Some shoppers were sent flying on top of nearby two-storey buildings.

The force of the blast left a large crater and wreckage of blown-out cars and windowless buildings. Rescuers were left to pick through a sickening scene of human remains mixed in with exploded vegetable matter and dead animals.

Sadr City, a Shiite city of two million in which religious leader Moqtada Sadr has found popular support, had many times before been targeted by Sunni terrorists who were blamed by some residents for this attack.

It was the deadliest bombing of civilians since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s government assumed responsibility for domestic security in May 2006.

Experts said the truck bomb was a lethal concoction of explosives, shells and shrapnel hidden under a consignment of fruit. The driver of the truck blew himself up in the explosion.


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