Trapped Chilean miner sees daughter`s birth on video

Ariel Ticona managed to see his daughter`s birth -- via video.

Updated: Sep 16, 2010, 10:22 AM IST

Copiapo: Ariel Ticona, one of the 33 miners trapped deep in a Chilean mine since August 05, may be separated from his wife by tons of rock and earth, but on Wednesday he nonetheless managed to see their daughter`s birth -- via video, an official said.

Ticona`s daughter Esperanza -- Hope in Spanish – was born on Tuesday at a clinic near the town of Copiapo, and a relative recorded the event in order to show it to the proud father.

The video was sent down to the miners some 700 metres (2,300 feet) below the surface via a shaft through which they also receive food, water and other supplies. The miners also have phone and video links to talk to families staying at a makeshift tent city pitched outside the mine, as well as electronic devices to watch recordings.

"He saw the video," an emotional Alberto Iturra, the psychologist on the rescue team, said.

He said Ticona`s brother Cristian rushed the video to the rescue site soon after the birth and managed to briefly talk to Ticona.

"It was very moving," Iturra said.

"The whole group of miners have offered their support. Esperanza has been warmly welcomed," he said. "The joy of one is shared by all here."

Esperanza, Ticona`s third daughter with wife Margarita Segovia, was originally going to be named Carolina. However the trapped miner asked his wife to re-name her Esperanza, inspired by the tent city of relatives outside the mine of the same name.

Hope is just what the trapped miners need. They have become national heroes since they were found alive on August 22, 17 days after they were trapped by a cave-in in the San Jose gold and copper mine, but experts say it could be December before they are rescued.

On Wednesday, the two drills currently digging rescue shafts both surpassed the 300-metre (980-foot) mark of the 700 metres they must dig, said rescue coordinator Rene Aguilar.

The fastest drill, a T-130 machine dubbed the "Plan B" option, resumed work on Tuesday after engineers extracted broken drill pieces that had forced the machine to stop work for nearly a week. The shaft is now 368 metres (1,200 feet) deep, Aguilar said.

A smaller Strata 950 drill, part of "Plan A”, also continued tunnelling down, reaching 308 metres (1,000 feet), Aguilar said.

Once the drills reach the miners, both shafts will still have to be broadened in order to bring out the men.

A third effort, "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 operational by next Tuesday.

PTI