Trapped Chilean Miners Hopeful: Rescue Efforts Advance Faster Than Anticipated

Filed in Gather News Channel by on September 30, 2010 0 Comments

On August 5, the San Jose mine in Chile collapsed, trapping 33 men over 2,000 feet underground. Three drills are working on rescue shafts to reach the men, who were missing for 2 weeks before rescuers were able to make contact with them in their cramped emergency quarters.

The depth, and instability of the area, required a special drill to create the initial rescue shaft, and it was believed that the rescue efforts may take close to 4 months to get the men out. In addition to the Plan A drilling, two more drills were set up as backup plans to rescue the trapped miners.

A worker operates the Xtrata 950 which is digging a hole for trapped miners to escape from a copper and gold mine in Copiapo, some 725 km (451 miles) north of Santiago September 25, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer (CHILE - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)

(The drill, a Strata 950, is making rapid advances.)

New hope has been given to the 33 miners and their families, according to the BBC, because Plan A is advancing rapidly, much faster than initial estimates suggested. The drill has cut through over 150 feet of rock in 24 hours. At this rate, the miners could be brought to the surface as early as the middle of October.

Alfonso Avalos, father of trapped miners Renan and Florencio Avalos, cries for joy upon hearing that one of the three drilling rigs working in the rescue, the Schramm T130, had finished drilling 300 meters (984 ft) of the 620 meters needed (2,034 ft) to reach the tunnel, and that it had successfully passed the hardest rock of all, at the San Jose mine in Copiapo September 28, 2010. REUTERS/Luis Hidalgo (CHILE - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY)

(Loved one of the trapped miners shed tears of joy at the promising announcement.)

The government warns that rescue efforts could yet run into difficulties, and estimate the rescue occurring closer to early November. Either way, the families have a renewed hope for the rescue of their loved ones and cheering rang out when they heard the news.

Relatives of the 33 trapped miners celebrate after being told that one of the three drilling rigs, the Schramm T130, had finished drilling 300 meters (984 ft) of the 620 meters (2,034 ft) in total to reach the tunnel, at the San Jose mine in Copiapo September 28, 2010. Rescuers could free 33 miners weeks earlier than expected as drills work around the clock to bore an escape shaft to the men trapped underground for 47 days. Rapid progress by three drills has improved the chances of reaching the miners in October instead of November as first thought, a senior official in the challenging rescue operation told Reuters on Tuesday. The men have been trapped in a copper and gold mine 2,300 feet (700 metres) below Chile's arid Atacama desert since it caved in on Aug. 5. REUTERS/Luis Hidalgo (CHILE - Tags: DISASTER)

(Relatives and friends cheered when they heard the good news.)

So far the drill has reached around 980 feet underground, leaving a little over 1,000 feet of rock to go. A steel capsule, which will be used to pull the miners up the narrow rescue shaft is ready and waiting on the surface.

A worker tests a capsule that will be used as part of rescue operations at the camp for the miners' relatives at the San Jose copper and gold mine, near Copiapo, some 725 km (450 miles) north of Santiago, September 25, 2010. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado (CHILE - Tags: ENERGY DISASTER EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

(The capsule that will be used to bring the 33 men up to the surface through the rescue shaft.)

Preparations are being made for when the miners are brought up to the surface. The interior ministry cabinet chief, Cristian Barra, said, “We are preparing to be ready in 15 days to complete the rescue at any time. This does not mean this will happen in 15 days, but all the installations – the hospital, the medical team, the meeting point – everything required will be prepared.”

A field hospital is being set up near the rescue site to give the men medical attention when they are brought up. Family members continue to camp out at the site of the mine, and have been there for two months since the August 5th collapse.

The 33 men are believed to be in good spirits, and are exercising and staying healthy and strong for the day they will be rescued. Hopefully that day will come sooner as the drill advances at such a rapid pace.

 

Photo Source: PicApp

 

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