In mine, Humans can survive in extreme environments

By Madison Park  CNN

The health of 33 trapped Chilean miners is authorities’ top priority, as crews this week began drilling in an effort to free them.

The men have been trapped 2,300 feet underground since a rockslide cut off their exit route on August 5.

Drillers could take three to four months to reach the subterranean chamber, Chilean authorities have estimated.

Humans can survive in extreme environments, such as the 540-square-foot space the men share. But this kind of prolonged confinement with darkness, crowding and lack of sanitation can take a heavy physical toll.

Despite such adversity, humans are remarkably resilient and adaptable, health experts said.

“There’s a strong instinct for human survival,” said Jason Kring, assistant professor for human factors and systems at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. “They happen to be forced into the situation. People will always find a way. It’s the most basic instinct to find a way to survive.”

Despite the challenging environment, the body will attempt to maintain the balance of oxygen, glucose and water.

“We can live without oxygen for a matter of seconds or minutes, without glucose or water for matter of days,” said Lawrence Armstrong, a professor at the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut. “Therefore, as long as they have good air supply, food and water, they could survive indefinitely in that environment.”  Read more : cnn

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