September 2, 2010
The Chilean Miners who are currently trapped nearly half a mile underground have been in pitch blackness for more than four weeks. As amazing as these miners' story of survival is, there are many other stories, from around the world, which describe being trappedand escaping to surviving.
One a man amputates his arm to survive. Others chew coal as food to survive. Another escaped from a sinking shipbut all survived their entrapment and lived to tell the tale of their rescue. It is only inevitable that the survival stories of 'Los 33' Chilean miners
will join this list of "great escapes."
Two Trapped Miners in Tasmania Survived for 14 Days
These two miners, Todd Russel and Brant Webb, were trapped in a safety cage that was nearly 3,000 feet below the surface. Survivor Todd Russel told The Guardian
how difficult it was to breathe. To reach the small pocket of air, "we had to lie on our backs. If one of us was on our back, the other had to lie on his side." Deprived of food and water for the first six days, Russel describes how "we had to urinate into our helmets so we could collect something to drink." Although the weather was hot and humid, a constant draft of air nearly gave the men hypothermia as their cold sweat clung to their skin.
To cope with their entrapment Webb and Russel made up stories, sang songs and helped put each others' minds in a positive state. They also cried. After six days a hole was made that is similar to the one in Chile, and it could reach food and water to the miners. Soon after, they could send letters back and forth between their families. They also received deodorant, a torch, and iPods with music from the Foo Fighters.Trapped Climber Aron Ralston Amputated His Arm to Escape
On a solo adventure down Utah's Bluejohn Canyon on April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston, a seasoned outdoors men and adventurer, got trapped by a boulder that shifted and pinned his arm against the canyon wall.
After struggling unsuccessfully for five days to move the 800 pound rock, he broke his forearm and amputated his arm below the elbow with his dull pocket knife, Carnegie Mellon Magazine
reports. The self-surgery took about one hour. Once he was freed from his entrapment, he still needed to repel down a 60 foot cliff and walk more than five miles until he was able to find help. Now Ralston has a prosthetic arm and has returned to his beloved mountain climbing. He plans to take up adventure racing in the near future.
A feature film titled 127 Hours
directed by Danny Boyle
staring James Franco
will be released in theaters on November 5
.Three Men Survived 25 Days in a Flooded Chinese Mine
These three men are second only to 'Los 33' when it comes to surviving underground entrapment. Their escape happened last summer July 2009 when the men were rescued after spending 25 days in a mine in southwest China's Guizhou province. To survive these men were forced to drink dirty water that seeped through the earth, Cleland.com
reports. To subdue their voracious appetites from 25 days without food, the miners chewed on available pieces of coal.
These miners had no contact with outside world and therefore no food for 25 consecutive days. Finally, after working around the clock, rescuers burrowed through the collapsed tunnel nearly 2,000 ft from the entrance of the mining shaft. The two men received immediate medical attention. These men had lost so much weight that their bones could be seen holding up their skin.Connecticut Man Survives Being Trapped Under a Boiler in His Furnace
After being trapped under his basement furnace for three days, Jonathan Metz partially amputated his left arm when he realized that gangrene set in before rescuers were able to get to his home. He had used his own tools to cut through his arm near the shoulder after smelling dead tissue from the loss of blood circulation.
Luca DiGregio, the team mate of the 31 year-old, noticed his friend didn't show up to softball practice and also that he had inexplicably missed work too, Calvin Palmer
reports. DiGregio called in rescuers when he got no response at Metz's home although his car was parked outside and his Beagle was inside barking. Firefighters responded and found Metz trapped near the floor of his basement where he got stuck trying to repair his boiler. He had survived by drinking water that had leaked onto the ground from the water heater. It took the firefighters 25 minutes to dismantle the water heater needing to use heavy equipment including a spreader which is usually used to remove car doors in violent crashes
. Metz was taken to the St Francis Hospital and Medical Center where his left arm was amputated. Dr. Scott Ellner, a trauma physician, said that Metz saved his own life by trying to self-amputate his arm.Sir Ernest Shackleton and Crew Survived 22 Months Isolated in Antarctica
In the world's first attempt at a transcontinental crossing of the inhospitable continent of Antarctica, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his ship, the "Endurance" became frozen in pack ice which later stranded the whole crew in Antarctica for 22 months without rescue.
On December 5, 1914, the crew led by Shackleton left the island of South Georgia southeast of South America. On Jan 18, their ship became stuck in the ice. The crew remained patiently on board until nine months later when they were ordered to abandon ship for fear of it sinking. Less than one month later, the crew watched their ship sink from the safety of their camp erected on the Antarctic ice. The crew was forced to kill their remaining sled dogs and eat the youngest ones to survive.
Shackleton, calmly in control, led his crew on a seven day journey to Elephant Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean on three lifeboats. They reached the island safely and set up camp. After a few days of rest, Shackleton and a small crew set out to reach South Georgia again in search of an international rescue effort. They took a small boat through rough seas for 17 days and with excellent navigation landed on the eastern side of the island. They then climbed the glacier clad peaks of the island to reach the west coast whaling towns.
Shackleton gained support from several governments including Britain and Chile to send rescue ships to Elephant Island. After three failed attempts because of dangerously icy conditions, the fourth ship reached the island and rescued the men 22 months after they embarked on their Antarctic adventure.Other great collapsed mine escapes throughout the world include:
- Two Chinese men who were trapped in a coal mine for 23 days in January 1983, CDC News reports. Emergency rescue teams were eventually able to get them out safely.
- In September 1982 four South Korean coal miners reached the surface with help of hardworking rescue teams after being underground for two full weeks.
- In Pennsylvania, August 1963 two trapped miners saw the light of day again after being trapped for 14 days in the Sheppton Mine when it collapsed as they were mining coal.
The Chilean miners do not have an easy road ahead of them for survival. Three months trapped in a dark small underground refuge and corridor affords the 33 no privacy. In the same interview with The Guardian, Russel, the survivor in Tasmania, advises that the trapped Chilean miners should think of their families and loved ones and rely on their mates around them to get them through.
Learn more about what the Chilean Miners face: