News / Americas

Trapped Chilean Miners Face Psychological, Physical Challenges

Chilean officials say it could take months to rescue 33 miners who have already spent three weeks trapped more than 600-meters underground in the north of the country.  Reaching the miners and keeping them alive and healthy are top concerns.  But tending to the miners' psychological needs and emotional well-being is also critical.

In a demonstration of stoicism and defiance in the face of extreme hardship and peril, the trapped miners fervently sang Chile's national anthem after communications were established between their shelter and rescuers above.

Optimism counts


University College London senior lecturer in psychology James Thompson says maintaining a positive mental outlook is critical in times of extreme hardship and mortal peril.

"The psychological [aspect] is important, because it maintains all the things which improve one's probability of survival, even when those probabilities are very low," said Thompson.

Confined to a small chamber, the miners are enduring extremely close quarters with one another.  Chilean officials have reached out to a host of experts on cramped living conditions, from submarine officers to NASA experts, for advice.

Team spirit

Thompson says confinement in a crowded small space will tax the miners' psyches, but does provide one benefit, as well.

"The fact that they are in a group of knowledgeable persons is a great help.  Individuals can fail, and others can comfort them.  This is a cooperative group, and that helps mitigate some of the enormous damage of this dreadful event," Thompson said.

Chilean officials did not initially tell the miners exactly how long it could take to drill an escape tunnel.  

Thompson says the miners are undoubtedly aware that rescue will not be quick.  He says officials are right not to promise any overly-optimistic timeframes for rescue that would inevitably lead to disappointment.  Instead, they should stress all that is being done to secure the miners' rescue.

Staying occupied

Thompson adds the miners themselves should be made to feel that they play a role in their own fate, and should be given tasks to keep busy and remain engaged.

"You have got to get them involved.  You have to make them the rescue team downstairs, and then the discussions they will have and the feelings they will have will be much more positive," Thompson explained.

Maintaining miners' spirits may be a prime goal of the rescue operation, but Chilean President Sebastian Pinera told the trapped men that their fight for survival has provided an emotional lift to the entire nation.

The president told the miners they are enduring hell, but that their struggle has resurrected the nation's spirit and provided an example of courage for all to follow.

And that spirit and courage, above ground and below, faces a monumental challenge in the weeks and months to come.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Time Almost Up for Argentina, US Bondholders in Debt Talks

South American nation has until end of Wednesday to either pay in full 'holdout' hedge funds, cut a deal or win a stay on court order that triggeered deadline
More

Football Star's Stepfather Kidnapped, Released

Lawyer for family of Argentina's Carlos Tevez said player's stepfather appeared to be unharmed
More

Video Young Migrants From Central America Risk Life and Limb to Get to US

For tens of thousands of young people trip north is fraught with hardship and danger
More

Mother of Slain Mexican Teen Sues US Border Patrol

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, was in Nogales, Mexico on October 10, 2012, when US agent shot him through border fence from Arizona
More

Planning Post-2015 Development

UNDP official calls for investing in people
More

Magnitude 6.3 Quake hits Mexico, No Major Damages, Injuries

Earthquake hit southwest of Juan Rodriguez, in eastern Mexican state of Veracruz at a depth of 95 km (60 miles), the US Geological Survey says
More