Well, everyone knew it was going to happen. Tourism companies would, of course, be jumping on the back of the Chilean mine rescue. The question was how soon.
At 7.46am today, just a few hours after the 33 men were all finally above ground, I got an email.
“Fresh air holidays for recently freed miners,” read the subject line.
Pretending to target the miners, that is pretty much as low as you can go. But, no, the press release went on…
“Here’s the ultimate in wide-open-space holidays – ideal for any recently-freed Chilean miner who just can’t get another fresh air right now”
‘Another fresh air’? Probably meant ‘enough of’ but never mind. They were clearly in hurry to piggyback this one as soon as possible. Because they had SIX clients to push in this email, from Cornwall to Africa. It includes one trip to the Atacama Desert costing nearly three thousand pounds.
That’s just “ideal” for recently freed Chilean miners, right? Their inbox must have been flooded as all 33 of them asking if they’d take Visa or American Express.
Another travel blog published today offered advice on “How to party like a Chilean miner”
In a reflex move, I re-tweeted it with a note of horror, but then took it down because I don’t want to attack the specific blogger, and I noticed the post had been taken down.
It may have been very bad taste, but it’s not hard to see how we got to this point. The coverage of the incident got so out of hand that people have totally lost sight of the issues and got caught up in the Big Brother element of the coverage.
Plus it had a happy ending, right?
We’ll need to wait (a very short while) for the movie version, but it’s already has the ultimate Hollywood ending in people’s minds.
It’s not over for these guys yet though. The psychological effects could last a lifetime and, as if that’s not bad enough, the whole world will be watching for signs of breakdowns. One of the miners said he was refusing the offer of ongoing psychological treatment, perhaps as a way of saying ‘look, I’m not mad, leave me alone now’.
Behind all this (and which should be pushed firmly to the forefront now) is the very serious issue of mining regulations and how we go to this situation on the first place.
That needs to be kept at the forefront of the discussion, alongside the interest in the ‘love triangle’ and ‘where are they now?’ stories which inevitably won’t subside for a long time.
A Geneva-based trade unions federation estimates there are mining 12,000 fatalities per year. In 2006, 65 miners died after an underground explosion in Mexico. Do you remember that? I don’t.
Saving ‘Los 33’ is an incredible feat which should be celebrated, but it is part of a huge, tragic issue that didn’t go away when the miners woke up above ground today.
Anyway, enough of the morbid stuff. Who wants to play the ‘free the miners’ online game that was launched MID-WAY through last night’s rescue?