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October 11th, 2010
02:13 PM ET

Ascent could bring health risks to miners

Work to rescue 33 miners from a copper mine 2,200 feet below Chile's Atacama Desert is about to take a dramatic turn.

The first miners could be pulled from the mine as early as Tuesday evening.  Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich says they are in good spirits and, overall, in very good health. However, some of the men have shown signs of anxiety and some have had minor cardiac issues, Manalich added.

The miners will be switched over to a liquid diet six hours before they begin their trip to the surface in case they vomit on the way up. The rescue capsule will spin as it rises to the surface, possibly causing dizziness and even panic.

MIR astronaut Jerry Linenger knows something about isolation and confinement. He says his five months in space left him weak and with bone loss. "Down in the mines you have gravity pulling you down. There will be disorientation–turning your head will feel like doing 100 backflips in a row," he said.

Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne is concerned about the miners being re-introduced to sunlight abruptly. Special sunglasses have been sent in an effort to make sure the miners don't suffer damage to their retinas.

The miners have been monitored very closely since they were first trapped on August 5.  The miners were given special shirts and shorts that pull sweat away from the body due to concern about skin infections.  They're also wearing special socks that help prevent athlete's foot and other fungal infections. They've even had a series of vaccinations including a tetanus booster and flu shot to help boost their immune systems.

The men have been exercising for an hour a day.  One of the miners, Yonni Barrios, is a paramedic and has been weighing his fellow miners daily, taking  blood tests and doing daily urine analysis.  That information is downloaded to a Palm Pilot that has been sending the information back to the surface so that medics and personal trainers can check to make sure the miners are well.  They have been tailoring the miners' exercise routines to the day's figures.

Dr. Bailus Walker, an environmental and occupational medicine expert at Howard University Medical Center, says one concern is the effect the barometric pressure will have on their bodies as they're brought up. "You'll see muscular aches and pains in the joints called 'the bends' as a result of the decompression. You could see some respiratory difficulties called 'the chokes.' You'll see increased blood pressure, and some lung damage–but the adequate supply of oxygen should keep lung problems at a minimum."

Update:

The bends, also known as decompression sickness, is a painful condition usually seen in deep sea divers surfacing too quickly. It can also occur when descending from high altitudes. Nitrogen bubbles can form in the blood and tissue when the pressure around someone in the air or water changes rapidly.

James Polk, NASA's deputy chief medical officer, says his agency considered decompression sickness but because the miners were at sea level, found the risk to be very low. "We did the calculations. We found the risk was negligible."

The addition of oxygen in the escape module will also decrease the risk for any nitrogen bubble formation, he said.

Experts say psychological adjustments will be a huge factor. "These men spent 20 days totally cut off in the dark until the first bore hole was made," Linenger said. "So they were in survival mode, which is tough psychologically because you are in a life and death situation."

Once out, the miners will be examined on site and hospitalized for a mandatory two days.  During that time  they'll be monitored and receive physical and mental health care. Doctors will keep an eye out for things like nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety and claustrophobia, among other potential issues.


soundoff (525 Responses)
  1. max

    Why are so many of you posters thinking you have the answers to what is going on in this crises? None of us are part of the rescue teams or other personnel. There are many intricacies we are not aware of. Comparing this to a ski-lift, a dark bedroom, etc shows that most of these posters are just armchair quarterbacks. Stop insulting each other and be happy that these men will be rescued. Be happy that they will live and see their families. To see how all the people involved in this crises came together should be an example as to how we should conduct ourselves–not trying to outsmart or outinsult one another.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      I am really happy these guys have a realistic chance to escape being buried alive. I'm unhappy that somebody billed as a senior medical producer for CNN wrote a headline and article stating that bends is a risk for these guys when only a small amount of knowledge of how the bends actually happen suggests that, absent artificial pressure in the mine, which was not mentioned, bends isn't possible in these circumstances. I want a senior medical producer to know enough to ask intelligent questions and report intelligently on a medical topic.

      October 11, 2010 at 19:55 | Report abuse |
    • Qbee37

      Well put. Infantile know-it-all behavior of most posters is the primary reason I typically avoid these boards. The majority of the comments here bear me out.

      October 11, 2010 at 20:07 | Report abuse |
    • KAREN N FLA

      AMEN!

      October 11, 2010 at 21:00 | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    Maybe all of the knuckleheads bad-mouthing the article should be taken seriously ... those trolls have been living underground for quite some time now.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Qbee37

      Also well stated.

      October 11, 2010 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
  3. CC

    I must get the bends everytime I go skiing, because my knees and ankles always ache, and my muscles hurt

    October 11, 2010 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tard

    They painted the escape vehicle because it was ready before the drilling was done so the time didn't matter and appearances matter: the world is watching. The psychological effect on the minors was clearly considered: it has to LOOK safe to reduce their stress. Would you get into a rusty POS for a 2000 ride to the surface through solid rock?

    Look, obviously they are being very cautious with the safety aspects of this rescue, but that's what professionals do; they anticipate every possible problem and mitigate them in advance. This isn't Fred Flinstone doing the rescue and the people involved want this to WORK and save lives, not trap some poor bastard at 1000' of solid rock to scream his lungs out until dying a week later. On TV.

    if these were 33 random New Yorkers trapped in the subway for 70 days, they would have killed each other by now. A few survivors would be screaming and whimpering, clinging to the ground and calling for mommy.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. raymchopper

    UNREAL!!! That you would think this is like riding a ski lift. Is that stmt a joke or what? I agree wih the stmt that "what do hundreds of doctors know?" YOU are, after all the expert with the comparission to a ski lift. UNREAL!!!

    October 11, 2010 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. FZM

    Puh-leaze. The bends from ascending 2000 feet? From a chamber that's equalized with regular atmospheric pressure?! A whole 20 minutes per ascent? They've been on a near-liquid diet already. This whole thing has been turned into a circus. I can't wait until the wives of the cheaters get to greet their loved ones. Kiss-*smack*!!!... "Pendejo!" What a freaking farce.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Whatever

    Can we send rrock down the hole after the miners are all out?

    October 11, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. mtnhiker78

    I've never scuba dived before, but I have been up to 28,000 ft in the himalayas a couple of times. Even with weeks of climatizing it is wicked what changes in temp, humidity and pressure will do to the human body. I don't rule anything out... So cheers to the pros for siding with caution.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      Maybe before you go mountain climbing again, you should take a class in high altitude physiology. You will learn that altitude sickness and bends are two different things. Sure, they're both related to pressure, but physiology is about getting the details right and in this case, the details don't add up to bends.

      October 11, 2010 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
  9. Jon

    @doug its the rapid change in the atmosphere not the atmosphere itself

    October 11, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Charley

    Hahaha! Me, that was pretty amusing. But yeah people aren't in a bedroom without light for a couple months either. Crazy world, the sad thing guys like rrock r in charge like the BP dofuss.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Chris

    The bends was first discovered in miners and in "casements" used for building bridge footing underwater. But there the cambers were filled with compresed air in an effort to keep them from flooding. The work areas had to be accessed through air locks. This was in the 1800's or early 1900's and workers would be "bent" if they came up to fast. The chamber where thes guys are, I don't think is filled with compressed gas.

    If it were filled with compressed air we now know how to prevent the bends by pre-breathing mixed gases that could contain oxigien or helium added to the air. But the room in not filled with compressed air, so there is no problem.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. theotherny

    ok you are clearly an idiot. overboard? do you understand how far down they are, and how long theyve been down there, and in such confined an area? and how far they will have to be pulled up in a small capsule? i wish you were down there, you tool.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. gregoryd

    Hey I disagree. I worked in mines all my life and there are pressure issues. Now if you are only underground for several hours it is no big deal. I have to wonder if your body is used to the pressure at 2500 feet for this long will it have problems adjusting. Although I would imagine they will be ok after awhile. I would think the difference in pressure might make you dizzy because most of the pressure issues are with the ears and equilibrium. As far as the eyes I agree I do not think there is an issue as they have lights underground anyway so the eyes are constantly adjusting to various light levels.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jim

    @rrock: you really sound like a moron. Try using your brain (if you have one) a little before you blurt out anything.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RH224

    Who cares how likely it is to get the bends by quickly rising 2,000 feet, if it is even remotely possible I'd be glad they're prepared for it.

    I think a lot of people are missing an important aspect of the story: that the assent is not just a simple "elevator" ride. It's a narrow, hastily drilled shaft that they're going to be pulled through in a spinning metal cylinder. It will be dark, it will be loud and they will be spinning at a potentially high rate... it will be a full on assault on their senses... So yes, I trust the Astro/Cosmonaut's opinion, as they and fighter pilots are about the only people trained to deal with such extremes.

    I will say that I'm disappointed in CNN though, for a science focused article, there is very little supporting information, and it isn't clear why what little provided is relevant to the story.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. steve

    Good luck to all of the miners. two months in a hole is a freakin long time. Plus it very hot / humid down that deep.

    Tard – great points as to what would happen with ny subway riders.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rigo

      lol they want to be in another hole wet, hot and deep

      October 11, 2010 at 20:40 | Report abuse |
  17. starfins

    NASA is even over there. There are medical and mining experts that have been there from the beginning. Thankfully you are not one of them.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. afreeman

    The bends? This is apparently an invention of the reporter. There is absolutely no way that these miners could get decompression sickness. That is just stupidity and ignorance. As for other issues, sure. I wish the miners well. They are very fortunate that the technology, expertise and will exists to extract them. But they will NOT get the bends unless they have been breathing air at greater than 30 psi, absolute. Well, probably a little less because they are at altitude.

    October 11, 2010 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Pandora

    They seem to be making much too much out of the altitude change. They shouldn't have any trouble ascending 2000' I'm all for precautions but some of these worries are just silly!

    October 11, 2010 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • B-dog

      Do you work for NASA? Cuz NASA seems to think they could have some problems with the altitude change. I'm just saying.

      October 11, 2010 at 20:20 | Report abuse |
    • Deep Sea Diver

      I would bet good money that if we could have heard the full comments by the astronaut & other NASA folks, we would find that it is the reporter that has mangled understanding of the facts.

      October 13, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
  20. northmnmommy

    yes, everyone comes out of dark bedrooms every day.. not everyone comes out of being trapped 2200 feet below rock (not knowing your fate) for MONTHS! But your right, its definitely the media hyping it up!!

    October 11, 2010 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Chaiah

    My family and I will, most certainly, be thinking of these men (as we have since they have been trapped) and hoping that all goes well when they are brought up... It's not over, but it's close and I can only imagine the anxiety their loved ones must be enduring.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Jabalu

    Yea, idiot, trapped in a mine is the same as skiing and getting out of your bedroom every day...Why don't you go set the world record then and see if you can beat the amount of days without sunglasses.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Veggiehead

    rrock, you win the prize for the most ignorant and absurd post of the week. Congratulations.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. David

    Sad thing is that with my studies and desk job, I'd bet those miners trapped underground are keeping in better shape then I am on the surface. I could use an hour of exercise a day with personal trainer feedback... :-/

    October 11, 2010 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. evoc

    The media is simply reporting the info given to them, they did not create it. Try spending 20 in pitch black, then come outside into the sun. Though, I did think 'bends' were cause by helium bubbles being released into the bloodstream, from diver tanks.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. brian

    From Wikipedia: (with its source cited)
    Ascent to altitude
    Passengers may be at risk of DCS when an unpressurized aircraft ascends to high altitude.[14][20][21][24] Similarly, there is increased risk for divers flying in any aircraft shortly after diving, since even in a pressurized aircraft the cabin pressure is not maintained at sea-level pressure but may drop to as low as 73% of sea level pressure.[14][20][25]

    October 11, 2010 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Tim

    Brian Wilson with the Beach Boys stayed in his beadroom for months playing his piano in a sandbox. He did okay when he finally came out. Just saying?

    October 11, 2010 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Lilarose in Bandon, OR

    I am all for being cautious with these miners in getting them to the surface and rehabilitating them. We can all have our opinions, however, without nasty comments concerning those opinions you don't agree with. I personally think that if these guys can work in mines for a living, and have progressed to this date relatively healthy mentally and physically, and receive the kind of care they are getting now plus what is to come, they are all going to be fine in the long term. My best wishes to them and to their loved ones who have also suffered.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. indiana5

    miners should be afraid to be puled one by one whether being the first person or the last person. they are very disciplind people and always folloed guidance and direction from their superiors just like soldiers. as long medical insturctions and evaluations are made for each miner and all bioengineering and proper medications are provided and they are being trained to utilize such directions, they are coverd for their sucessful rescue with god's mercy and blessings. in any case we all survive day to day everywhere in this world.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Tim

    Brian Wilson with the Beach Boys stayed in his beadroom for months playing his piano in a sandbox. He did okay when he finally came out. Just saying?

    October 11, 2010 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. joenyc

    Hmmm. So let me see, it should be a piece of cake for these poor guys, right?

    Let's think about this for a minute. Have you ever been in a dark room for a couple of hours only to have someone flip the lights on? What's your instict? You squint and cover your eyes because the light hurts right? And these guys, their iris muscles are probably quite relaxed – pupils wide open – from being in pitch black for 2+ months.

    Decompression sickness? Sure, why not? That sealed place 2000 ft down has got to have it's own climate and air pressure, and given the miner's physical condition and diet it's probably no surprise that they'd get some form of the bends.

    I'd like to think that the experts, you know, the other miners working the rescue, along with the doctors, astronauts, and military have a pretty good handle on what may or may not happen with their bodies and minds. And the things they say they are taking care of make sense, to a layman at least.

    What I worry about for those 33 brave souls is the stuff that the rescue planners think, but aren't letting out to the media.

    Pray for these guys, that they will all be fine.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rogi

      joenyc- You should stop praying for these guys and pray for some brains instead. The mine space has 3 air shafts and a rescue shaft drilled into it. The pressure is the same as at the surface. Equal pressure equals no bends.

      October 11, 2010 at 22:17 | Report abuse |
    • John Ellis

      Hi Rogi .... Why pray at all ... it's a TOTALLY useless exercise .... a) do you think god will listen to you? b) if so, why the hell did he let this disaster ... plus the ones in Pakistan (millions made homeless and countless died from the floods), Hungary (homes destroyed, many killed from the toxic waste), Haiti (what a lovely earthquake!), China (Oh – the floods, landslides, on and on), and the oil disaster in the gulf .... happen in the first place. Since he is totally powerless to stop these terrible disasters from happening – he's probably totally powerless to even listen to you – from such a high place – in heaven.
      You'll feel a lot better once you realise there isn't a god! You'll have a lot more free time on Sundays too!

      October 12, 2010 at 00:45 | Report abuse |
    • collen

      John Ellis: God is perfectly willing to let you fail... to let you deny Him. It's called 'free will' , which is what differentiates Man from other "creatures of nature". Perhaps God has allowed a situation to occur simply to test YOUR faith, which you obviously do not have, and He isn't going to make you have it. Each of us has to choose one path or the other...one of belief and faith in God, or not. When your child dies an early death, you can choose to curse God for letting it happen or not. But I'd be willing to bet that you'd be the first one to pray to God if YOUR life were in imminent danger.

      October 12, 2010 at 10:02 | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      Uh huh......well. You can go on waiting for God to come save you. I'd say I'm gonna rely on the science that produced the drill, geologic knowledge, electronics, human biological knowledge, engineering, and materials that were used to get these people out. God had nothing to do with it. And no I would not be "first one to pray to God if" my life were in danger. Just because I was in trouble doesn't mean I'd automatically turn stupid.

      Did you know that the field of psychology considers belief in God a form of schizophrenia? It is because you are considered to be living in a self created world of delusion.

      October 12, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
  32. Matt

    This guy is dumber than the back of my bag

    October 11, 2010 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Trevor

    Somewhere, some village is missing it's idiot!

    October 11, 2010 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Igor

    You all not taking in consideration the fact that the capsile will be pulled in a tight channel so some negative pressure will be created. Have you ever been in a subway when the train comes? You can fill this pressure. And the capsule is moving like a cork from in the bottle neck. This negative pressure may cause some bends. Have you geneouses thought of that?

    October 11, 2010 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Primony

      Uh..trains are moving at about 50mph, the cage is moving at 2 inch a second, or roughly 2mph. Also the cage is not a "cork", air can and will escape around it.

      October 11, 2010 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
    • Rogi

      Igor- grow a brain. Have you ever heard of anyone on a subway platform getting the bends? Oh, BTW, if you can spell genius, I don't think you are one.

      October 11, 2010 at 22:12 | Report abuse |
  35. Jeffrey

    I don't have a problem with the media hyping up this story a bit by talking about fears of the bends, or other extreme precautions being taken in the rescue & extraction effort....afterall, when a group of guys are trapped 2200ft below the earths surface for many weeks, it's a fascinating story that calls for some sensationalism. It's either this story or following Lindsey Lohan around LA after she gets out of rehab again and continues to violate her probation by getting high on her crack pipe.....you pick.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. colowest

    This isn't rocket science. Assuming there are no significant ventilation pressure or atmosphere composition differences that we haven't heard about in 70 days, and there's nothing I've read about the mine or seen in plans and sections that suggests there is, the difference in pressure would be 0.81 psia if the surface is at 10,000 ft. The difference would decrease slightly with lower surface elevation, increase with higher. There would be no difference whatsoever between these guys coming up from 8,000 ft to 10,000 ft than in fact riding the gondola from Vail to the top of Vail Mountain, and in fact for most skiers that don't live in Vail the lift trip would be marginally worse - the pressure difference between Denver and the top of Vail Mtn. is about 1.73 psia, from New York City 4.20 psia. The latter does in fact lead to mild altitude sickness in some people not used to occasional significant changes in altitude. There should be no difference in composition at all, although for unacclimated people steadily-diminishing oxygen starts having noticeable effects beyond just shortness of breath above 12,000 to 14,000 ft.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Grisselle Oconnor

    Ellos estan listos para ver la luz del dia , Para ser rescatados
    Para Amar , Amar mucho mas de lo que amaban
    Para perdonar , Perdonar mucho mas de lo que perdonaron
    Para Luchar con todas las fuerzas que han acumulado . Hoy tienen mas Valor y Corage
    No tienen miedo de seguir luchando en esta vida . Estan listos para tomar decisiones
    Listos para arriesgar . Para no permitir mas derrumbes en su Vida .
    Ellos hoy esperan para ser rescatados . Llevando esta increible noticia al ambito cristiano
    Que hay de ti !? Estas listo para ser rescatado !? Para ver la Luz !? Su LUZ ...
    Es impresionante como muere la gente , Cada segundo 2 personas mueren esto es un total de
    172,800 mill personas al Dia , Personas que Talvez nunca han escuchado de Cristo y lo que el Hizo en la Cruz
    Personas que por muy buenas que hayan sido o son . Lo que les espera es el Fuego Eterno .
    Solo Cristo Salva , Solo su Sangre Limpia . Solo El es el camino , la Verdad y La vida
    Ve ... y Hablales , Inyectales Esperanza . Esta vida no solo se trata de ti , De tus problemas , Tus suenos
    anhelos , amores , metas etc . Se trata de 6.5 Billones de personas mas . Y de lo que Dios hizo por amor a ellos
    Hace 2000 años atrás .

    October 11, 2010 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Uncle Sam

      This is America. CNN is an American company. Speak English!!!

      October 11, 2010 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
  38. james fryday

    This is not at all like a ski lift. Oxygen is required. Tight space and swivel motion happening as well as circular twists as it comes up.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. whatnext

    The doctor who said that himself remembered they've had air pumped in nearly the whole time. They're not going to be pulled up at 40 mph. American media – by tomorrow they'll be warning they could die on the way up. It'll be more reason to report their survival, an already great story, like the second coming.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Bruce

    These miners are going to be just fine. The media first thought they would panic and turn on each other from claustrophobia. Then they thought they would have psychological problems from their confinement. It is important to realize that these are not ordinary men. These are South American miners, and they have not spent their lives in cublcles, playing softball on spring weekends.

    They will all come out of this just fine. The only ones that will look bad are the prophets of doom that have slaughtered these hearty men several times over with silly presumptions.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Smellie

    I once got the bends after camping overnight in a cave, no wait, that was the runs. nevermind.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. David M.

    Some of you "medical experts" on here should go down and take over the medical side of this rescue. You seem to have all the answers. Why have you not cured cancer yet???

    October 11, 2010 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Mike Mong

    Ever heard of Cassion Disease? from when workers were inside areas during bridge construction in the early 1900's with a different ambient pressure. If they emerged too quickly they could suffer from decompression sickness. It's the change in atmospheres. Your basic scuba diver understands this concept.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Synthia

    why doesnt the physician prescribe a pill or shot to keep them unconscience/ or some what calming drug during their trip up to the surface.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Brenda Gardner

    I believe the doctors and the rescuers are doing a great job. They are being cautious and have thought carefully about the welfare of the miners. There is still possible danger in all phases, and I truly believe their caution of the rescue is warranted. I know I couldn't have gone through what the miners have been through without severe anxiety (to put it mildly)..

    October 11, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • EJ

      Yeh, it's "moot" point. Good luck to all the survivors, families, and workers involved. Something to cheer about!

      October 12, 2010 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
  46. Synthia

    y not give them a dose of aniexty pill or send them up unconsience

    October 11, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Primony

    Uh..There is an open shaft from the mine to surface. The air being pumped in is regular air, you cant pump in pure oxygen due to risks of fire or explosions. There are lights down there now so besides some temporary discomfort I think that's a mute point. This is just the media trying to make something boring less boring. Now to make it really interesting send down some cobras and turn the lights off, now that would be funny.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom

      Please, tell me you didn't write "mute point."

      October 11, 2010 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
  48. Primony

    Primony

    Uh..There is an open shaft from the mine to surface. The air being pumped in is regular air, you cant pump in pure oxygen due to risks of fire or explosions. There are lights down there now so besides some temporary discomfort I think that's a mute point. This is just the media trying to make something boring less boring. Now to make it really interesting send down some cobras and turn the lights off, now that would be funny.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. avos

    I did not vomit even when I did sky-diving. CNN is toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo pessimistic.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. vtwinr

    Of course they're breathing pressurized air, but the miners would have to shoot up like a rocket to get the "bends". Nitrogen Narcosis though...I've heard that this has been an issue in really deep mines before.

    October 11, 2010 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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