Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free
2014 Picador Movie Tie-In Ebook
On August 5, 2010, 33 of the men that make up the A shift, enter the San Jose Mine in Copiapo, Chile. One man, Mario Sepulveda is late. He is hoping that maybe he will be fired, and that will make it easier for a friend to get him a job at another mine. Most of the miners live in the Copiapo area. Mario commutes from Santiago. As he walks toward the mine, a friend gives him a life and he arrives in time to report for his shift, only the supervisor Luis Urzua notices but makes no mention. Now all 34 men are beginning their work day.
Raul Villegas, driving a dump truck of ore to the surface, passes all the other miners on his way out of the mine. He is the only one to escape as the blast and collapse happen behind him. It is 1:40 pm.
At first, the rumble and the dust catch everyone by surprise and then they realize what has happened. The next few minutes they try desperately to determine where their companions are and if they are all safe. As the dust settles and they start a head count, all are accounted for except for Raul, the driver of the dump truck. All are uninjured.
What happens in the next few hours, and the days and weeks that follow is nothing short of miraculous. As luck would have it they are trapped near the Refuge. A sort of break room, with reinforced walls and a small kitchen. They are able to move up and down several levels but their escape routes are all blocked or the chimneys have no ladders. Several vehicles are operable, have gas, batteries and there is a large tank of water used for servicing the equipment.
Hector Tobar continues to tell the story and intricately weaves the personal stories of the miners and their families, the townspeople of Copiapo and the government officials of Chili with the details of the mine and what happens when "the mine pancakes." I found the story impossible to put out of my mind and it caused me to wonder if I would have been able to deal with the hardship that occurred. I'm not sure that I would have.
I would suggest reading this book if you like non-fiction and even if you don't. I have a few friends that normally do not pick non-fictions, but because this was a book club selection, they read it and enjoyed it. It is well written with wonderful descriptions of the surrounding area and the time inside the mine. I am also anxious to see the movie THE 33.