Trapped

Miners to Be Freed by Sunday

The end is near. A rescue drill is just 328 feet away from the small cavernous dwelling where 33 Chilean miners have been living since August 5, after they were trapped by a collapse a half-mile below the surface, according to Mining Minister Laurence Golborne. However, a key decision must be made today regarding a technique for the final approach. “The deeper it gets, the more complicated things become,” said Eugenio Eguiguren, international vice president of the Chilean company that owns and operates the T130, a mobile drill rig normally used to bore water wells that is drilling the rescue hole. Indeed, if the rescuers employ the wrong technique it could cause a cave-in, and trap the miners forever. The debate now is whether to first line the rescue hole with a steel tube before sending down a rescue capsule – which could loosen rocks and cause a cave-in, or to install a shaft encased in steel to transport the miners back to the surface, which also could cause a cave-in. If all goes well, the miners could return to the surface by Sunday, according to Golborne.