Chilean president arrives in mine to witness rescue

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

COPIAPO - Chilean President Sebastian Pinera arrived Tuesday at the San Jose copper mine, where he was to witness the attempt to rescue 33 miners trapped underground for more than two months.

“We always acknowledged that the life of the miners was in the hands of God,” Pinera said in the nearby city of Copiapo.

“I feel profoundly moved and profoundly happy,” he said.

Pinera travelled to the mine in the Atacama desert by helicopter, wearing the red jacket that has become a symbol of his government. At the mine, he went over the rescue plan with mining minister Laurence Golborne and other members of the rescue teams.

Pinera was to take part in a Catholic mass along with relatives of the miners, who have been trapped 700 metres underground since Aug 5.

The actual rescue was reportedly to begin at 8 p.m. (2300 GMT). Pinera is to witness it on site, alongside Bolivian President Evo Morales. One of the trapped miners is Bolivian.

In Copiapo, school was suspended ahead of the rescue, and several streets and roads were blocked off to facilitate the transfer of the trapped workers from the mine to the Regional Hospital in the nearby city.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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