Author Of Book About Chilean Miners On What Could Be Ahead For Rescued Thai Boys06:13
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An ambulance exits from the Tham Luang cave area as rescue operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Thailand on July 9, 2018. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)MoreCloseclosemore
An ambulance exits from the Tham Luang cave area as rescue operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Thailand on July 9, 2018. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

If anyone knows what 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand have been going through, it's the Chilean miners whose 69-day ordeal in 2010 also gripped the world's attention.

Héctor Tobar, author of "Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free," talks with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson about similarities he sees between the two events.

"For the Chilean miners, it was the sense that they were dying, that they were facing imminent death, the sense that they were trapped in their own coffins, reflecting on the lives they've had and thinking that no one was looking for them, that they were going to die alone," Tobar (@TobarWriter) says. "So I'm sure those boys went through the same thing."

Interview Highlights

On the issue of light exposure during these kinds of rescues

"The miners came out with dark lenses over their eyes to protect them, because they had spent 69 days in the darkness and had not seen sun. But what being alone in the dark, and what being in this intense, extreme situation does to you ... it's sort of like being abused, is the way the miners described it to me. You begin to feel very small. Being in the presence of death for that long, the possibility of death is something that ... it's almost like an assault on the psyche. And so you come out feeling very, very small, you feel like you've been belittled. And yet the world is celebrating you, and that's a difficult thing to deal with, psychologically speaking."

"Being in the presence of death for that long, the possibility of death is something that ... it's almost like an assault on the psyche. And so you come out feeling very, very small."

Héctor Tobar

On the impact on family members being kept from the rescued boys

"It's something that happened with the Chilean miners, to be separated from their loved ones. In the case of Chile, they had this spectacle on the surface, with television cameras and everyone watching. It's hard on the families. I think it's, in many ways for the families, it was a renewal of their love for each other. There were people who had been separated and were on the brink of divorce who got back together again. And so there's this powerful sort of sense of like, 'We really do matter to each other,' but at the same time the families might discover that these young men have changed. They're going to be impacted. A lot of the miners came out very angry after a while, just normal reactions from post-traumatic stress. And so to see that in the young men is going to be difficult, and I hope someone is preparing them for that."

On how the Chilean miners who were trapped are doing now

"Most of them are back at work in the mining industry, though not underground. A few did work underground in the years that followed, because it was the only work they could get, and that was difficult for them, it was very traumatic. But the ones who are doing the best are the ones who went back to work right away. One of the things that I discovered is that routine, going back to your work routine, to your family routines, is really healing.

"A few of them have had some very public problems with domestic violence and alcohol abuse. One was in a hospital for a while dealing with ... suicide ideation. And so yeah, for them it's been a sort of a mixed bag. Some have gone on to new public lives as inspirational speakers, and others are still dealing with some of the emotional problems."

This segment aired on July 9, 2018.

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