RESCUING MINERS IN CHILE
NB As with all rapid-response assemblies, you will need to update this assembly, which was written on Sunday 10 October
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To reflect on the rescue of the Chilean miners.
Preparation and materials
Set up a dark space in the assembly room – you could use an old curtain suspended over poles.
- Near the dark space, make up a ‘camp area’ with blankets and rudimentary camping kit.
- ‘Hard hats’, if your school has them.
- Practise the drama with some older children.
In the dark space
Boys wearing hard hats scramble into the space
Boy 1: Here, it’s here – I knew it was! Here’s the safety chamber.
Boy 2: And there’s some food and water.
Boy 3: Thank God – I thought we were done for.
Boy 4: (aside) Just cos we’ve found the safety chamber, who knows if we’re safe or not.
Boys sit down in a circle
In the camp area
Girl 1: (to drilling official) But how far down are you now, sir?
Girl 2: Is there any hope – have we lost our men?
Girl 3: Just tell us, sir! Are they still alive?
Drilling official: I don’t know, ladies. But we’re almost at the safety chamber. If they’re in there, then we have hope.
Girls sit down
Back in the summer holidays, when you were possibly enjoying yourselves at the beach, a terrible event was being played out in Chile, in South America. Deep underground, in one of the country’s mines, 33 miners were trapped following a mine collapse. It was assumed that they had all died, until it was discovered that they were alive and safe within an underground safety chamber, built into the structure of the mine. Once they were reached, water and food was sent down through a small shaft. Notes were passed in both directions. Specialists from NASA, the US space agency, advised on how to care for the miners, while another much larger shaft was drilled, through which the miners would be winched to safety. It was thought that they could be underground for many months while the escape shaft was drilled.
(let the children improvise reactions from the campers) and from the miners trapped 700m below the surface (let the children improvise reactions from the miners).
On Saturday 9 October, the safety shaft reached the miners. There was great jubilation in both the camp of waiting relatives at the top of the mine
In the camp
Official: I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but we can’t use the rescue shaft quite yet. Part of it goes through soft rock, and it may fall apart once we start using the ‘phoenix’ rescue pods to pull the miners up. We must reinforce the shaft.
Girl 1: But when will our men come out?
Official: I think we’ll start on Wednesday, but it will take up to 48 hours, 2 days, of non-stop work to draw them all up to the surface.
Girl 2: We have waited 66 days; we will wait and pray until our men come free from the earth.
So, on Wednesday 13, it is hoped the men will start to be saved. The plan is to draw out the fittest first, as the rise to the surface will not be easy. Then those in poorest health will emerge.
Time for reflection
This rescue operation has never been tried before. There is still no guarantee that the miners will be brought out safely.
Close your eyes, and think about how it must feel to be one of those miners, waiting with your colleagues in the mine.
Now imagine that you are one of the friends and relatives, waiting at the top of the shaft for news, hoping and praying that your loved ones emerge safely.
The world is watching and waiting to see the miners.
You might like to use these words as a prayer:
as we watch and wait with the people of Chile,
we thank you for the knowledge and skill of those drilling and working to save the trapped miners.
We thank you for miners all over the world, who work underground so that we might have all sorts of metals and minerals to use in our lives.
We think of all those people, and we ask you to be very close to them,
today and in the future.
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)
‘Fragile’ by Sting (widely available to download)