Fastest drill resumes work at Chilean mine rescue
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 12:42
Copiapo: The fastest drill trying to reach 33 trapped miners in Chile was to resume work, after engineers were able to extract broken drill pieces that forced the machine to stop work last week.

"We managed to get the (drill) part out," chief rescue engineer Andre Sougarret told AFP, adding that drilling operations should resume "in the next few hours."

The drill had been forced to stop work five days ago at a depth of 268 metres.

The main drilling machine leading what has been dubbed "Plan A" continued tunneling down to the miners and a third "Plan C" -- an oil drilling platform -- was being assembled outside the San Jose gold and copper mine.

The Chilean government has ordered multiple efforts to reach the men, but none are expected to allow them to be rescued before Christmas.

The T-130 machine, or "Plan B" option, is the fastest of all three attempts to extract the men, who have been trapped at a depth of 700 metres since an August 5 cave-in.

But it broke down on Thursday with its drill head shattered inside the tunnel. Engineers had been trying to remove the broken pieces from the shaft and were about to give up when they announced their breakthrough.

The T-130 drill plans to bore down 630 metres. It will drill an initial shaft 30 centimetres in diameter that will later be expanded with to 66 centimetres to allow the miners to be extracted.

Meanwhile, the Plan A Strata 960 drill, continued tunneling its way down, reaching 283 metres yesterday, said Sougarret, adding that it would push past the 300-metre mark without a routine stop as had been planned.

Plan C involves a massive drill used for oil exploration that is being assembled on a football-pitch size base near the mine. Engineers said it should be up and running by Tuesday of next week.

The trapped miners have become national heroes since they were found alive on August 22, 17 days after the cave-in.

They have been getting supplies -- food, water and now cigarettes -- through a metal shaft to the surface. They also have telephone and video links by which they can talk to their families waiting in "Camp Hope," a makeshift tent city pitched outside the mine.

The wife of trapped miner Ariel Ticona yesterday gave birth to a baby daughter.

Esperanza Elizabeth -- whose was inspired by the "Camp Hope" set up by the miners' family on the outskirts of the San Jose mine -- was born midday via caesarean section, her family told AFP.


First Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 12:42

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