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Gold Peru

Gold Peru 86

It is only in adventure novels that the profession of a gold digger is shrouded in a romantic flair. The inhabitants of La Rinconada know firsthand what difficulties and hardships have to be overcomed for the sake of one golden crumb. But, despite the unbearable working conditions, the population of this Peruvian city in just ten years, increased by as much as 235 percent. The blame is the gold rush, which drives everyone to the highest mountain city in the world to improve their financial situation.

La rinconada

For the time being, the inhabitants of La Rinconada had one reason for pride – they lived at an altitude of 5100 meters above sea level. Due to this circumstance, the village fell into the Guinness Book of Records as the highest mountain settlement on Earth. In this regard, it has no rivals. The place is located near the devil in small buns – in the Peruvian Andes, not far from the border with Bolivia.

You can get there by the only dangerous, winding and steep road, which takes more than one day. Far from civilization, surrounded by beautiful and majestic mountains, local ethnic groups used to live there. For centuries, their way of life did not change until they once discovered a gold mine. And away we go …

La rinconada
Photo: Walker dawson

Peru is a very poor country. Of all the South American countries, Bolivia weaves in the tail itself, Peru – in the penultimate place. In terms of living standards, the state takes the 115th place in the world. Almost half of the population (45%) lives below the poverty line.

Most Peruvians are employed in the agricultural sector, which does not generate large incomes. Therefore, the opening of a gold mine in the Andes, many Peruvians took with great enthusiasm. It seemed to them that a little work – and the golden key in their pocket. Accustomed to difficulties, the descendants of the Indians with their whole families went to La Rinconada in search of a better life. But, having arrived there, even these unhampered people were amazed.

La rinconada
Photo: Oscar Espinosa

The city is as beautiful as it is inhospitable to man. La Rinconada is located next to the glacier (it is, however, retreating, but this does not change much), in the conditions of permafrost. The temperature never rises above zero degrees Celsius, and negative temperatures always reign at night. This means that it is impossible to grow vegetables or fruits there.

But this is not so bad: since the air is constantly diluted, due to a lack of oxygen, a person suffers from anoxemia (low oxygen content in the blood). People get tired quickly, do not sleep well, etc. In general, vitamin deficiency and constant oxygen starvation are eternal companions of local people. But the highlanders have adapted over the centuries, but the foreigners have a hard time. However, the dream of wealth overpowers the fear of getting sick, and the Peruvians continue and continue to arrive at the mine.

La rinconada
Photo: Walker dawson

From 2001 to 2009, more than 50 thousand people came to this place forgotten by God, and over the past five years the number of “migrants” doubled. There are two reasons for this – a sharp increase in gold prices and the emergence of electricity in La Rinconada. However, despite the fact that the city was lit up, working conditions at gold mines did not become better.

About 30 thousand people are constantly working in the frozen mines of La Rinconada. Each of them runs the risk of contracting scurvy, pneumonia, tuberculosis, rheumatism, radiculitis. In addition, one of the most common diseases is poisoning. A huge amount of mercury and other toxic substances is released into the atmosphere daily. The fact is that gold is mined in the old fashioned way, in violation of all rules and regulations.

La rinconada
Photo: Oscar Espinosa

A piece of ore is placed in mercury and gold is thus separated from the rock. The resulting silver ball is burned with a blowtorch, while the poisonous gas escapes into the cold rarefied air. The result of such gold mining is mountain air poisoned by mercury vapor. According to UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) estimates, for every gram of gold extracted from a rock, two to five grams of mercury are released into the atmosphere.

Any doctor will say: the metal itself is not as dangerous as its fumes. The weakness and drowsiness that gold miners suffer from are flowers. Much worse than tremor, bleeding gums, indigestion, dizziness, cough, impaired memory, nausea, vomiting, renal failure. For all those who seek gold there, these diseases are a common thing.

La rinconada
Photo: Oscar Espinosa

Those who work with mercury directly are more at risk. But the locals who live near the mines, you will not envy. According to environmentalists, not only air but also water is poisoned in La Rinconada. Why, there, in the nearby village of the Ananei miners, as well as in rivers and lakes up to Lake Titicaca, which is 250 km from the town, traces of dangerous metal are found. In addition to mercury, gold miners are threatened by avalanches, glacial floods, chemical leaks, explosions and caving in mines.

La rinconada
Photo: Walker dawson

In general, Peru has strict safety rules, but in the La Rinconada, lost in the mountains, no one monitors their observance. Of the two hundred companies registered here, only five have the equipment necessary for gold mining. The rest offer their employees to buy everything they need on their own.

La rinconada

Gold mining in La Rinconada is a family business. In mines, one can often find not only men, but also women dressed in traditional colorful skirts and bowler hats. Often, along with children, they delve into the rock removed from the mine, since women are not allowed to enter the mine. According to the miners, if women enter the mine, gold disappears.

La rinconada

Not only working conditions, but the living conditions in the town are appalling. The only school in which there is not enough space for all children, the lack of police, post office, transport links, sewers, medical institutions, a sanitary service – these are the everyday life of La Rinconada.

Waste roads, hillsides, streets of the town are littered with sewage, garbage and industrial waste. Nobody ever removes this dirt, at best they burn it. Therefore, the air in the village is poisoned not only by mercury vapor.

La rinconada
Photo: Walker dawson

Residents of the city huddle, mainly in small metal shacks, standing next to each other at the foot of the mountains. In the homes of the benefits of civilization – only electricity. In La Rinconada, alcoholism flourishes. The drunken prospectors often find out the relationship, as a result, there is a high crime rate. In the dark, it’s dangerous on the street.

Earnings of gold miners – $ 170 per month. But luck does not always smile at them. With no luck, the salary does not exceed $ 30. For poor Peru, even this is good money. Many Peruvians dream of getting rich and returning to their native lands, where they can open their own business.

La rinconada
Photo: Oscar Espinosa

But La Rinconada, like a swamp, sucks people in, and many can never get out of here. If hard work does not kill the prospector, he dies from the knife of a drinking companion or illness. The average life expectancy in La Rinconada is 50 years. However, miners and townspeople are accustomed to death. Moreover, they do not perceive it as something terrible, death there is considered a good sign. Indeed, among the descendants of the Indians, human sacrifices to mountain spirits were of great importance. When these invisible entities received another sacrifice, they became more merciful and loyal to the living.

In addition, miners believe that the new victim “pushes” gold ore closer to the surface, making it easier to extract. So the superstition of local miners for  blood, is like fatalism. And how without this, can you voluntarily live in a city that resembles hell?


Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 87

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 88

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 89

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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