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Friday, January 15, 2021

News

Houstonian aids rescue efforts for Chile miners


The wait is over and people around the nation can finally stop holding their breath for the 33 miners in Chile who are being rescued after being trapped underground for almost 70 days, the longest in human history.

Officials began the rescue effort on Tuesday night by ascending the men one by one through a 13-foot-tall capsule called Phoenix. Though there were minor door and wheel complications, everything is working as planned.

Houston-based NASA offered its assistance, considering its experience in training space crew members for extended periods of isolation.

Among a team of scientists and engineers from all over the world helping to figure out how to get the Chilean miners out was a Houston man and his local company, Driller Supply International.

Owner Greg Hall started the company in 1986. He opened another location that provides equipment for mine drillers in Chile in 1993.

When the collapse happened, Hall said his workers were there.

“Our customers called us and asked if we can send (equipment), and we did,” Hall said.

17 days into the miners being trapped, they began to drill 500-800 meters deep when they hit a pocket where they felt some sort of tapping.

“We thought the miners were dead,” he said. “That’s when we received the note that all 33 of them were alive.”

The miners attached the note to a drill that the rescuers were using. Hall said after that, they left and thought they their job was finished.

“Then they called us and asked us if we had any suggestions on what to do next,” he said. “I became a general rig contractor.”

Hall and a team of people from all around the nation attempted to do whatever they could to find a way to get the miners out — and quickly, considering the psychological and physical health issues they were facing.

They came up with what they called Plan B, which was to dig a hole that’s safe enough and wide enough to lift all the miners out successfully.

The rescuers at the time told the public that it could take up until Christmas to get them out, but Hall and his team had a different goal.

“We scheduled for six weeks to drill (them out),” he said. “They asked us to keep quiet about it.”

Hall said that during the time of drilling, he had to be careful not to give out any unsure information, especially with Camp Hope — where all the families were set up on-site holding “beautiful signs” and counting on him and all the others to get their loved ones out.

“I was afraid to get emotions involved,” Hall said.

The miners are slowly making their way back up to see daylight and their families, and all 33 were expected to be brought out as of press time late Thursday night.

“I’m not going to allow myself to fully relax until all 33 are out of there,” Hall said.


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