Joy in Chile, but a long haul ahead

Emotional scenes in Chile as 33 miners trapped 2,300 feet below ground for 18 days have been found alive and apparently in good spirits, despite their confinement. However, it could be Christmas before the miners, trapped after a rockfall, can be rescued, as it will take 120 days to drill a rescue shaft of sufficient width to haul the men out, one by one.

A small camera lowered down a borehole has shown the miners to be sweaty but in remarkably good spirits considering their predicament.

The have survived for the 18 days on two mouthfuls of tuna and a sip of milk every 48 hours, food which was stored in an emergency shelter in the mine.

Engineers have been working to reinforce a six-inch-wide borehole that broke through to the miners’ refuge on Sunday and through which food and water can now be sent to the trapped men, the oldest of whom is 63 years old.

The main concern is not the physical health of the miners, as they all seem to be in perfect health, but the upcoming mental strains until they are finally freed from their underground prison.

Last year, three workers survived 25 days trapped in a flooded mine in southern China but there have been very few rescues that have taken more than two weeks.

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