Last minute of the rescue of Julen, the child who fell into a well in Totalán (Málaga): "without rest" to re-profile the tunnel and arrive "as soon as possible"

"We continue working tirelessly, every time we feel that we are closer to Julen and no doubt that we are still betting on the solution that was designed and that we hope that it will bear fruit


Image of part of the machinery that is working on the rescue of Julen. REUTERS

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"We continue working tirelessly, every time we feel we are closer to Julen and do not doubt that we are still betting on the solution that was designed and that we hope it will pay off very soon", are the last words of Ángel García , delegate of the Colegio de Engineers from Malaga, about the rescue of Julen , the two-year-old boy who fell into a well in Totalán (Málaga) 10 days ago and whose rescue is increasingly encountering more obstacles.

At dawn on Tuesday, when everything seemed to indicate that the eight miners who are responsible for digging the last 4 meters to reach the small, a new unforeseen. About 06.15 hours on Tuesday, when they had introduced 42 meters of pipe, "important discontinuities appeared on the walls of the gallery, some irregularities that are quite common in this type of drilling and with these materials" and that forced not only to remove the tubes of the perforation but to try to remedy to arrive as soon as possible until the child.

Eliminate discontinuities

That is why the elimination of these discontinuities with the machinery that made the first drilling is now being carried out and then the 42-meter jacket that was removed will be introduced, to finish then the remaining 18 meters to the tunnel's 60 meters parallel, "plus additional 12 meters that are necessary for the performance of the rescue team" mining.

An "awesome" job

The Government Delegation has made an appeal not to add "more pressure" to the professionals who are working on the rescue because they are already working "under hard enough pressure" on a task whose magnitude is "impressive".

"It is the work of many men and women who impressively are 24 hours without rest to achieve the desire of all of us, which is to reach Julen as soon as possible and they do it with an exceptional team not only technical but also human", said Gómez de Celis, who pointed out that "everything that is needed is here in Totalán".

Totalán, "family" of Julen


Totalán is overturned with the rescue of Julen . The town of the child has become "a family", in the words of its mayor, Miguel Angel Escaño . The small town of Malaga with just 700 inhabitants has welcomed the parents of Julen and the rescue operation with all their hope. "I have done what had to be done and that's it," said the owner of the house where Julen's parents are staying, Ángela Alcaide , to Efe.

Alcaide has indicated that she does not seek "any protagonism", but to offer herself "from the soul" to her and her husband, who have made available to the Julen family the "little" they have. "What we want is to end this nightmare," she said, who is "overwhelmed" and "very worried" while the news of the case on television from his home in the town of La Cala del Moral .

The house, which Alcaide uses for his holidays, has "the conditions for this family to rest and not be overwhelmed," among which are bedding, "good blankets", bathroom, toilet, kitchen, three bedrooms, a dining room and other functionalities; In addition to having a location on the outskirts of the town that facilitates discretion and transport where they need.

"They are there as if it were their house, as long as it takes ."

The well and works are illegal

While the rescue tasks continue, a court in Malaga investigates the circumstances in which the unfortunate incident occurred. The court of Instruction number 9 of Malaga, based on a report from the Service of Protection of Nature (Seprona) of the Civil Guard , has commissioned a series of actions after noting that both the well in which the child fell and the works that were carried out in the days before the accident -and that caused the stone that the pocero had placed on the hole to move- did not have the pertinent permits.

David , owner of the farm and husband of a relative of Julen's parents, and Antonio Sánchez , pocero who did the prospecting blame each other

The tube does not fit and you have to drill again


The rescue of Julen has become complicated again. Hunosa's Mining Rescue Brigade troops were ready to intervene on Tuesday morning, but the vertical gallery has turned out to be too narrow for the tube that had to cover its walls. The problem, explains the deputy of the Provincial Fire Brigade of Malaga Francisco Delgado , is that the excavation does not leave the walls smooth. "With a 30-centimeter stone protruding, the tube does not fit", underlines EL MUNDO.

Once this new work is completed, it will be the turn of this elite brigade, in charge of digging manually the tunnel that communicates horizontally with the well. Santiago Suárez , head of the Mining Rescue Brigade , explained in La Sexta that the greatest difficulty his men face is the hardness of the terrain, "uncharacteristically, strangely hard", so his manual intervention with the pneumatic hammer can require the use of microexplosives that "crack and soften the ground".

Throughout the night work has been done without rest to finish the excavation of the parallel tunnel after the drilling of 60 meters of the gallery concluded on Monday. The operation has taken 55 hours to complete, at a speed of 1.1 meters per hour . The rescue teams have completed the digging of the vertical tunnel parallel to the well that fell Julen 9 days ago, according to the deputy of the Provincial Fire Department of Malaga , Francisco Delgado, but new problems with the jacket of the tunnel could delay until Wednesday the rescue of the little one.

They are looking for "immediate solutions"

The difficulties have arisen in the last sections of the vertical tunnel, when verifying that the tubes that were going to be used as a kind of rail (jacketed, in the jargon of the guild), do not fit in the existing drilling. According to device sources, "immediate solutions" are being analyzed. First, they must introduce a camera to check the tunnel's condition, while preventively they are looking for all the necessary means in case there is another problem to solve it quickly.

Several options have been considered to redirect the situation and the safest option has been chosen: the well will be filled with fine earth and drilled again with a slightly greater thickening . The maneuver has already begun.

Although it is not possible to give an estimate of time, it is estimated that the miners will take about 24 hours to dig the 4 meters to Julen once they start. But first the vertical drilling must be completed, which is expected to end this afternoon.

On knees in 40 minute shifts

Santiago Suárez , former head of the Hunosa Mining Rescue Brigade displaced to Totalán, explained that the 8-strong team that will be in charge of the last meters of the horizontal tunnel (4 meters) will have to work on their knees or lying down in shifts of between 40 minutes to an hour to locate the child .

"They will work at a distance from the ground in order to leave it as a boiler to take away the rubble they are producing." When the gallery reaches one or two meters, they will move the cage upwards .

Difficulties arise

The preliminary tasks to the execution of the horizontal excavation that the miners will develop to rescue Julen has found new technical difficulties. The works, as they have been happening for nine days, have continued without rest and during the day it is expected to finish the jacket.

One of the biggest difficulties is to fit the window from which the specialists of the Hunosa Mining Rescue Brigade will start digging about four meters horizontally, 72 deep, to reach the well where the small one is located. In this estimate about 24 hours so it would come to this Wednesday .

The Government delegate expects "a happy ending"

The Government delegate in Andalusia, Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis, has indicated on Tuesday that he expects "a happy ending throughout today and tomorrow" in the rescue of Julen. This was stated during his speech at the opening of an informative breakfast held by La Voz de Almería , in which he expressed the "longing we have for everything to end well."

"The team is ready"


The former head of the rescue brigade of Hunosa, Santiago Suarez , has assured Cope that the miners who have moved to Totalán to rescue Julen from the well "are eager to start." "The team is prepared psychologically and physically" and has indicated that "they are accustomed to mining and confined spaces are not going to be any problem" .

The former head of the mining rescue brigade points out that this is a "complicated job, the section is small and has to be ventilated, so the rock was hard and the terrain was difficult ".

The team, in addition, will have to go propping up a space that "each time will become smaller, right now they are working on their knees in shifts of one hour". Suarez confirms that there is communication with the men who are on the surface "and who are anticipating the material they need for the rescue."

This will be the last meters until you reach Julen

The eight experts in mining rescue who will participate in the complicated tasks will do it in turns of two . The next phase is the gallery cladding works. Subsequently, the level of the mouth of the well that has just been executed will be re-established and the pit where the drilling machine was positioned will be filled.

They will descend in a rescue capsule, 1.05 meters in diameter by 2.5 meters high , designed by the technical director of the Provincial Fire Brigade of Málaga , Julián Moreno , and manufactured by blacksmiths from the Malaga municipality of Alhaurín de la Torre.

This capsule, which looks like an elevator, is driven through a precision crane , and has air ducts; in addition to a townhouse to load almost 500 kilos of land.

The miners

The miners will dig manually this horizontal gallery of about four meters to connect with the well where Julen is, in what they can use about 24 hours. For this, they will carry, among other materials, a compressed air hammer , axes and wood to fasten (prop up) the tunnel they must drill.

The hardness of the land will determine the duration of the work for which the miners have evaluated all the possibilities, including the use of an explosive, if necessary, to remove the land by means of microvoladuras.

The savior of the miners of Chile: "Have hope"

As soon as he received the information, Rodrigo Reveco knew that they needed him from the other side of El Charco. He had never been to Totalán , province of Málaga , Spain. Nor had I listened until then to talk about little Julen , the two-year-old boy who fell into a pit last Sunday. However, Reveco had seen himself in a situation of similar harshness. This civil engineer and Chilean emergency consultant designed, in 2010, the mechanical cylindrical capsule, which transcended as Fénix capsule , and which allowed to rescue alive the 33 miners who remained trapped in San Jose for 17 days in 2010 .

His first impulse was to write to the Embassy of Spain in Santiago de Chile offering his expertise for the rescue of Julen. "We have initiated the pertinent steps to send your valuable proposal to the competent authorities." He did not know more. But when a journalist sent him a tweet that showed the plans of the 'lift' by which the miners rescuers would have to go in search of Julen, he could not help it. The result is that Reveco works hand in hand with the Provincial Fire Brigade of Malaga to advise them in the rescue of the child of Totalán.

"We exchanged a couple of ideas and I gave him free access to all the plans," says the engineer in a telephone conversation with EL MUNDO. Reveco insists that the situation is even more complicated than what he himself lived in Chile nine years ago: "The mining world is one and I think the rescue work that has been done is correct and very precise, the idea forces It has been proposed is absolutely favorable, "he says, and recalls that there were also delays in San José to find rocks of special hardness, which even broke part of the machinery used: " We also made mistakes . "

The delays, he acknowledges, "lower spirits and discourage", but seeks to send a positive message to the rescue team: "Have a lot of patience, control the adrenaline and do your work in consciousness , without thinking about all the people who have over " "Have hope," he emphasizes, "we managed to rescue the miners alive 17 days later."

Psychological help for the family


The child's family, which follows the work with hope from the front, is receiving psychological attention by a team of professionals who try to control and regulate their emotions in the face of uncertainty about the rescue and in circumstances that are exceptional.

Francisca Ruiz , vice-dean of the School of Psychologists of Eastern Andalusia , explained today to Efe that, since last 13th, two specialists are permanently with the parents of the child and their relatives, and they are rotating among the different classmates. They aim to prevent possible later disorders, such as post-traumatic stress or chronic anxiety crises . The vice-dean has indicated that they are encountering "many peaks" of emotions, following the news coming from the technicians regarding the rescue of Julen, and his job is to "regulate those peaks and that can be the most serene possible to handle the situation. "

"Very complex rock formations"

The difficulties of the terrain have delayed the work that continues "without rest" since last Sunday, the sources have stressed. The speed "is subordinated to the geological materials that we are finding", García Vidal explained. These are very complex rock formations "formed by phyllites and materials with more quartzite composition, that is, we go from hard to harder, and this is the fundamental reason why at certain times the drilling speed is slower and slows down everything ", underlines the representative in Malaga of the Association of Civil Engineers of Andalusia.

In addition, the device has concreted the area of ​​the dismount to avoid landslides while continuing the drilling and backhoe loaders that during the last days have covered the surface of the hill of the Crown have begun to retire, once the great work platform has been constructed from the which the tunneling machine operates.

It took nine days to get here, dozens of hours without rest and hundreds of people who have formed a multidisciplinary team to work indefatigably since the past day 13 occurred the unfortunate accident, although the truth is that a work of Civil engineering of such magnitude would take months under normal conditions.

The Cerro de la Corona of the Malaga municipality of Totalán has disappeared as it was known after the work of clearing and the movement of thousands of cubic meters of sand .

'The elevator'

The crane that will lower the metal capsule or rescue lift for Julen has an approximate length of eight meters and will be the machine that will lower this basket through the vertical tunnel with two or three members of the Hungarian Hungarian Rescue Brigade on board.

This capsule or ascensort has a diameter of 1.05 meters by 2.5 meters in height and is designed for two people with material to excavate in case of need of rescue, and in addition it will be able to remove up to 500 kilos of materials if necessary.

Accident in the operation

An all-rounder from the Civil Guard of the rescue operation overturned on Sunday on the access road to Totalán , although its two occupants suffered significant injuries. The troops of the Special Group of Underwater Activities of the armed institute, displaced from the first day to the place of the events, were able to leave by themselves the vehicle, which was overturned in the road of the road that connects Rincón de la Victoria with Totalán .

After the accident, the two agents were taken care of by a sanitary team and even participated in the regulation of traffic after the accident, as Efe could verify, and later a crane lifted and removed the SUV from the road .


Experts in explosives from the Civil Guard have gone to the rescue operation of the small Julen, according to the sources consulted, since the operators of the different companies have made microvoladuras of the land to facilitate the clearing of the hill and collaborate with the excavators in the movement of land. The work of the explosives agents of the Benemérita is to provide their service "if necessary", although at the moment it has not been necessary.

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