Final preparations begin for rescue of 33 miners

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

COPIAPO - The final preparations for the rescue of 33 miners in Chile began late Tuesday with the lowering and raising of an empty test-capsule down the escape shaft.

Once the hoist operator has the feel for the operation, a rescue worker will board the 54-cm-wide metal cage called Phoenix - named after the mythical bird that rises from the ashes - and travel the 622 metres to the bottom to help the miners prepare for the journey up, one by one.

On its return journey, Phoenix will carry the first miner, Florencio Avalos, 31, to the surface for his first gulp of surface life in more than two months.

Two more rescue workers, including a medical rescue specialist, will descend on subsequent journeys. On the return shuttle, the second and third miners - Mario Sepulveda, 39, and Juan Illanes, 52, are to be hoisted.

The three rescue workers are to assist the miners as they prepare to travel up, and tell them what to expect.

The capsule is equipped with oxygen tanks, communication lines and special belts to monitor the miner’s vital signs. The miners have been on a liquid diet to prevent nausea and boost blood pressure.

CNN reported that the miners will also wear special compression socks and corsets to keep up their blood circulation during the ascent.

Phoenix is equipped with wheels on its side to absorb shock as it glides along the rock walls of the shaft. Only the top part of the shaft has been given a steel lining.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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