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Tuesday, September 7,2010

Chile's trapped miners to watch soccer live

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

SANTIAGO, Chile — The 33 miners who have been trapped for over one month 2,300 feet (700 meters) under the Atacama desert in northern Chile are to watch Tuesday's soccer match between Chile and Ukraine live.

"We have carried out the relevant tests of the signal, which were described as optimal," the National Emergency Office (Onemi) of the Chilean Interior Ministry said Tuesday in a statement.

Rescue workers liaised with personnel from the mobile telephone company Movistar to broadcast the match to the miners, who have been trapped since the mine shaft collapsed on August 5. Contact was only re-established with the miners 17 days later.

One of the 33 miners is suffering from severe tooth ache, Onemi noted, and his antibiotics treatment had to be changed.

Experts cited by Chilean media described the man's situation as worrying, since no more comprehensive remedies will be on hand for him until he is pulled up to the surface, and that could take another three or four months.

Another miner was also getting treatment for hypertension.

Rescue teams are using an Xstrata drill to dig a 2,300-foot vertical tunnel to the place where the miners are. By Tuesday, they had reached about 325 feet (100 meters) underground. Onemi described this as Plan A.

The drilling of a second shaft, Plan B, has also begun at the San Jose copper mine and reached a depth of nearly 100 feet (30 meters). A Schramm drill is to enlarge a hole which has been used to send food, water and other essentials to the men.

A bigger and stronger drill, which is normally used for oil and gas extraction, was due to arrive at the mine over the next few days. It would, however, take some time to prepare it for the operation, Chilean authorities said.

Once one of the passages has been widened to about 271/2 inches (70 centimeters), the miners will be lifted to the surface one by one in a well-lit module containing oxygen, water, food and an intercom system. The module will need between half an hour and an hour to reach the surface.

The earliest this is expected to happen is early December, Golborne said. According to media reports, the rescue might in fact come earlier than expected, perhaps even in October.


(c) 2010, Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany).

Visit dpa on the Internet at http://www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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