33 miners, trapped almost a mile underground in a copper and gold mine in Chile, are getting closer to a dangerous rescue attempt. They have been stuck deep underground for 67 days, due to a cave in.
On Monday, rescuers completed the installation of 96 meters of steel tubing into the shaft that the miners will use to reach the surface. Rescuers installed the tubing as a buffer between the rescue capsule and the shaft walls.
Adding the metal was the last step needed before bringing the miners to the surface, according to Mining Minister Laurence Golborne. Plans are to have the first miner brought to the surface on Wednesday.
The 33 miners have been underground since August 5th, but reports indicate that they remain in high spirits and good health.
The plan is to bring up the most tech savvy miners first, in the event there are any problems. Once the capsule ride up the shaft is proven to be stable, anyone with serious health problems will be brought to the surface. Those who demonstrate the highest emotional strength will be reserved to go last. When the miners were informed they needed to choose the order in which they would leave, many volunteered to go last.
The capsule they will ride in to the surface has standing room for one person at a time. It carries oxygen and communications equipment. The inside width of the compartment is slightly less than 21 inches, and the trip up is expected to take 15 to 20 minutes. Dangers of the ride include falling rocks, collapse of the walls of the tunnel, the capsule becoming stuck, mechanical failure, and even the rider becoming panicked in the claustrophobic confines.
For six hours prior to rescue, the miners will be given liquid diets and vitamins. This will help battle the effects, such as dizziness and panic. A doctor and a rescuer will be lowered into the underground chamber prior to any miners being rescued, and will be able to provide medical assistance and sedatives, if needed.
Upon rescue, the men will be treated at a field hospital. From there they can visit with one or two family members. Once all of the miners are safely brought to the surface, they will be flown to a nearby hospital where they will be kept for observation for several days.