Drill mishap delays Chilean mine rescue

A drill being used to reach 33 miners broke off and fell to bottom of shaft.

Santiago: A drill being used to reach 33 men trapped for almost seven weeks inside a mine in northern Chile broke off and fell to the bottom of the shaft, although no workers were injured, authorities said on Wednesday.

Engineer Andre Sougarret, who is in charge of the rescue operation, told reporters that Wednesday morning`s incident affected the Schramm T-130 drill, which is being used to reach the miners.

"One of the hammer drills became detached from its base...These are the types of unforeseen things that can happen," he said.

The incident forced rescuers to stop drilling after completing 85 meters of a second stage to widen the shaft, although they were expected to resume work soon.

The 33 miners were trapped on August 05 when a landslide caused a tunnel at the San Jose copper and gold mine to collapse above them, but they managed to survive by taking refuge in a large underground shelter.

Rescuers made contact on August 22 with the trapped miners, who have been receiving food, water, medical supplies and extra oxygen via small bore holes.

One of the shafts that could be used to bring the men to the surface reached the area where they are trapped but must still be widened, a process expected to take several weeks.

IANS