In Chile mine, a display of altruism

Associated Press / October 11, 2010

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SAN JOSE MINE, Chile — After more than two months trapped deep in a Chilean mine, 33 miners were so giddy with confidence, officials said yesterday, that they were arguing over who would be the last to take a twisting 20-minute ride to daylight and the embrace of those they love.

Officials have drawn up a tentative list of the order in which the 33 miners should be rescued, and Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the otherwise cooperative miners were squabbling about it — so sure of the exit plan that they are asking to let their comrades be first to reach the surface, probably on Wednesday.

“They were fighting with us yesterday because everyone wanted to be at the end of the line, not the beginning,’’ he said.

The final order will probably be determined by two paramedics who will be lowered into the mine to prepare the men for their journey in one of the three rescue capsules built by Chilean naval engineers.

During the past week, all the miners underwent stress tests to assess their health.

Manalich said officials were concerned about acute hypertension and sudden drops in blood pressure because of the speed with which the miners will ascend the nearly half-mile to the surface.

Another concern is blood clotting. To counteract it, the miners began taking 100 milligrams each of aspirin yesterday, he said.

They will also put on compression socks and a special girdle and will be on a high-calorie liquid — which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration prepared and donated — for the final six hours before being removed, Manalich said. That is to prevent them from becoming nauseated; the rescue capsule is expected to rotate 350 degrees some 10 to 12 times through curves in the 28-inch-diameter escape hole on its way up, he added.

A small video camera in the escape capsule will be trained on each miner’s face. Each will also have a mask attached to an oxygen tank. top stories on Twitter

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