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