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October 13, 2010

Final Miner Rescued. 33 For 33

The last man up was the shift supervisor. He was in charge and wanted to be last up...once his men were safe.


Speaking of leadership...the President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, was quite the camera hog in all of this, staying on site for days on end and greeting each miner as they came up. Thing is, he earned it. He was leading.

By sad contrast, Obama stayed far away from the Gulf during the BP spill, as if to deny it, and made only a few brief appearances later.

Sadder still is what happens in China, where miners are routinely left for dead after mines collapse a big reason more than 2,000 parish in such accidents each year.

"Lucky people who were born in Chile. ... If it was us, we would definitely have been buried alive and died," a Chinese wrote on the Internet, as quoted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Pinera is different. He focused on avoiding conflict and laying blame while the rescue was still on. He took accountability himself by firing incompetent inspectors on his own side, but didn't condemn business or shut down an entire industry, as Obama did with his Gulf moratorium, only now being lifted.

Pinera worked with local officials instead of bickering with them or throwing up bureaucratic obstacles because they belonged to the wrong party. Sadly, that's what Obama did with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had to take matters into his own hands in building berms when Louisiana's coast was threatened by the April spill.

Chileans, by contrast, said the crisis united them as never before. That takes leadership, and it comes about only because Pinera believes in openness, free markets, transparency and putting himself last.

That, along with the bravery of the miners, the effectiveness of the tools and the remarkable organizational skills that were brought to bear, turned a horrible tragedy into perhaps the greatest rescue operation in history.

It was truly an international effort. Naturally from NASA to mining companies and a world class drill operator, the US was deeply involved.

Chileans have found a new hero in American Jeff Hart, the drill operator who has spent weeks drilling down to where 33 miners have been trapped deep underground for more than two months.

Rescuers finished drilling an escape shaft on Saturday for the men, jumping for joy as the drill pushed through the last inches (cm) of a nearly 2,050 foot-long (625-meter) shaft through which the miners will be hoisted to safety.

"There's an emotion there that I can't describe. It's an amazing thing," said Hart, 40, who government officials praised for his central role in the rescue.

"We finally got there, we fought all this time. We have an avenue now that we can actually rescue these miners ... There's nothing more important that I will ever do," Hart told Reuters in an interview at the mine.

Damn fine job by all.

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posted by DrewM. at 09:09 PM

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