Chile miners got toothbrushes. Now to address their greater needs.
Chile miners trapped since Aug. 5 finally got the food and toothbrushes they requested. The next challenge is to help them cope with the possibility of living underground for four months.
Relief crews are now using a pair of fist-sized boreholes to provide the Chilean miners with food and medicine, a relief after more than two weeks when they survived on a spoonful of tuna fish and a couple of crackers every 48 hours.
The miners were trapped Aug. 5 when the collapse of a 700,000-ton rock blocked the long, winding vehicle ramp they normally took to return home after 10-hour shifts more than 2,000 feet underground. Rescuers gave up on extracting them through a ventilation shaft when it, too, caved in. The country celebrated Sunday after drillers from the surface broke through to a reinforced refuge area and found all 33 alive.
Helping the workers settle into their new life, however, will be a bigger challenge.
"The aid starts with the most basic needs: food, shelter, and a sense of security. Now they need help organizing their time," says Humberto Marin, a psychologist with the trauma, stress, and disasters unit at Catholic University in Santiago. "They have to have a daily routine, to stick together and to help work on the rescue."