Copiapo (Chile): Workers in Chile expect to
be able to rescue 33 trapped miners by mid-October, rather
than early November as originally anticipated, a news report
said on Tuesday.
The daily El Mercurio newspaper, citing unnamed
government sources, reported that officials said
state-of-the-art drilling equipment at the scene has made
faster-than-expected progress in efforts to reach the men, who
have been trapped underground since an August 5 mine collapse.
"There is a chance of completing the operation before
President (Sebastian) Pinera departs for Europe on the 15th"
of October, one official was quoted by the newspaper as
Shortly after the mine collapse, Chilean authorities
warned that it was unlikely that they would be able to free
the men before Christmas, but later said a rescue could take
place as early as November.
Speaking this past Sunday, Mining Minister Laurence
Golborne said he would not officially change the rescue
timeline, but nevertheless suggested it could happen more
quickly than originally anticipated.
"We have always spoken of the first days of November, but
the plans now are slightly ahead of schedule," he said.
"We are gaining a day here and a day there, but we do not
claim victory or generate unrealistic expectations, since we
are talking about an inexact science," Golborne said, noting
the complexities and safety concerns of drilling through
layers of granite rock.
The rescue effort involves digging down more than 600
meters to get to the miners trapped since a cave-in August 5.
The men -- 32 Chileans and one Bolivian -- have survived
underground longer than anyone on record.
They are being supplied with food, water, medicine and
entertainment through three supply holes, which also carry
communication lines to the surface, where family members have
been camped at the entrance.