Long wait ahead for trapped Chile miners

They may have to spend at least four months underground

Long wait ahead for trapped Chile miners

For their families above ground on Monday, euphoria and and more anxiety meant for a sleepless night at the realisation that the miners may be stuck until Christmas.

“We didn't sleep. We stayed up all night long hoping for more news. They said that new images would appear, so we were up hoping to see them,” said one of them.
Dawn broke behind a cold fog on the surface of the gold and copper mine in Chile's Atacama desert, where an intense rescue effort finally reached the miners on Sunday after weeks of missteps, new cave-ins and other false starts.

Now, the plan is to carve a wider tunnel, just big enough for the men to be pulled out one by one. That equipment works much more slowly than the bore that drilled the 15-centimeter-wide shaft used to make first contact.

That narrower drill broke through 2,257 feet (688 metres) of solid rock to reach the emergency refuge where the miners have gathered. The trapped men quickly tied two notes to the end of a probe that rescuers pulled to the surface, announcing in big red letters,  “All 33 of us are fine in the shelter.”
President Sebastian Pinera said at the mine: “Today all of Chile is crying with excitement and joy.”

And where many were beginning to give up hope, the scene above ground became a celebration on Sunday night, with a barbecue for the miners' families, roving musicians, lit candles and Chilean flags making the barren landscape seem festive. The men already have been trapped underground longer than all but a few miners rescued in recent history. Last year, three miners survived 25 days trapped in a flooded mine in southern China, and two miners in northeastern China were rescued after 23 days in 1983.

Living on the edge
*33 miners trapped, almost 2,300 feet underground for last 17 days after the main access tunnel collapsed.
*Trapped miners sheltered in a refuge—the size of a small flat.
*Miners safe; will take up to 4 months to rescue them.
*Rescuers to drill a bore hole to send plastic tubes containing glucose, hydration gels and food down to miners to keep them alive while they dig a new shaft 66cm in diameter to extract them.
*One more shaft to be made, to ensure ventilation and communication in coming months.

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