Drilling of rescue shaft for Chilean miners delayed

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SANTIAGO - The start of drilling for a rescue shaft to reach 33 trapped Chilean miners was delayed until Monday because technical preparations had yet to be finished, the head of the rescue work said.

They included reinforcing and settling the drill, Andre Sougarret said Saturday, the day the drilling was to have begun.

An additional motor for the drill was to be delivered from Germany Sunday at the copper and gold mine near San Jose de Copiapo in the Atacama Desert. The 15-tonne motor was to speed up the drilling of the 66-centimetre-wide, 700-metre-deep shaft, which was expected to take three to four months.

The miners have been trapped since Aug 5 when a tunnel collapsed at the mine, located about 700 km north of Santiago.

Rescue workers only determined they were still alive a week ago. Since then, the miners have received food, water, medicine and news from their relatives through a narrow tube as officials redoubled their efforts to get them out.

They were also considering enlarging the tiny tunnel that is being used to supply the miners because it could shorten the rescue time to two months.

The miners have put up a brave front in the videos and other messages they have sent to the surface. Five were suffering from depression, but Health Minister Jaime Manalich said Saturday that they had overcome it.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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