Rescuers, and the 33 trapped miners they are trying to save, were overjoyed as a bore hole being drilled reached its target today.
The end is closer, but the hole will still have to be widened in order for the miners to be brought through. This widening could take several weeks.
Rescuers have three independent rescue efforts under way. The drill that reached the miners is known as Plan B.
The Plan B drill reached the mine, 2040 feet below ground, around 10:30 a.m. local time on Friday, according to officials. The drill bit on this drill shattered last week, and had to be retracted and replaced. Brandon Fisher, of Center Rock, Inc, said that once drilling resumed it went very well, even with some tough rock in the final hours.
If Plan B goes as well as hoped, the workers could all be out of the mine by the end of October or beginning of November.
Now it is up to officials to determine the best way to bring the trapped miners out of the mine when they have the hole ready to lift them out. The rescuers may use a cage, with an oxygen feed, that will lift the workers up one at a time. It was originally believed this would take a couple of hours each, but now it seems it might be a matter of 15 minutes per miner.
Meanwhile, the other rescue efforts continue as planned, in case Plan B runs into problems.
Plan A drilling will be halted over the weekend for maintenance. The drilling will be resumed early next week. Plan A will take three to four months for completion of a hole to rescue the miners.
Plan C involves a new drill that arrived on location just this week. Its assembly has been completed, and they hope to begin drilling with it over the weekend.
Image: Flickr / Desierto_Atacama)