It was the dirty laundry that did him in.
Yonni Barrios was one of the 33 men who found themselves trapped at the bottom of a century-old mine in Chile. They were worried about air. They were worried about food. They were worried about survival.
Barrios was worried that his wife and mistress would kill each other.
“After 17 days, the miners were found alive and well, and we started to send provisions down to them through a tiny borehole,” Jean Romagnol, one of the doctors involved in the rescue operation, told the BBC. “They would send up their dirty laundry to be washed. The problem was they sent the washing to Yonni’s wife . . . but she refused to do it or to hand it over to his girlfriend.”
The situation got so out of hand that Barrios, then 50, was forced to beg Romagnol, through notes to the surface, to lend him some clothes.
‘Deep down dark’
The movie “The 33,” which opens Friday, retells the momentous story of survival and rescue of the miners. It stars Antonio Banderas as Mario Sepulveda, the miner who became the de facto leader 2,300 feet underground.
Juliette Binoche plays Maria Segovia, a street vendor whose brother was one of the trapped miners. Segovia became known as La Alcaldesa or the “mayoress” of the encampment set up by family members near the mine.
But it’s Barrios, played by Oscar Nuñez of “The Office,” who brings some levity to the drama — as perhaps the only guy who fears what’s waiting for him at the surface.
On Aug. 5, 2010, when the San Jose Mine underneath the Atacama Desert collapsed, the men were feared dead. For 17 days, nothing was heard from them even as rescuers frantically drilled into the mine to try to make contact.
Led by Sepulveda, the group became extremely disciplined in their determination to survive underground. Every day, Sepulveda divided up the few provisions that were stocked in the mine, lining up 33 plastic cups into which he would scoop one teaspoon of canned fish and some water. Each miner also received two cookies, although the rations were cut in half as their food began to run out.
They ate once a day and gathered together for their meal. Before eating, they fell to their knees and prayed together, “begging God to rescue them,” writes journalist Hector Tobar, who chronicled the miners’ plight in his book “Deep Down Dark.” Tobar’s account is the basis for the Hollywood movie.
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