While rescuers have insisted that the 33 Chilean trapped miners at San Jose mine will be evacuated in early November, the government has suggested that the rescue will most likely be as early as mid-October.
“In 15 days we will be 100 percent prepared to rescue the miners,” Interior Ministry Adviser Cristián Barra told El Mercurio.
Being 100 percent ready not only requires having the tunnels finished, but also having a primary care centre ready, a field hospital in place, an area for the family and press, a lifting system for the capsule, and special licenses for the Regional Hospital of Copiapó, which is the closest city to the mine.
Another crucial part of the preparations is the mobility of the rescue capsule, which will lift the miners to the surface through one of the three tunnels being drilled at the moment.
“We’ll see how the capsule moves in 10 feet of pipe,” said Andrés Sougarret, head of the rescue team. Rescuers will use a crane to test the mobility of the capsule this weekend.
About 50 foreign technicians, including equipment and machines, are aiding Chileans in the rescue effort. There are professionals from at least seven countries operating the drills.
A group of U.S. technicians travelled from Afghanistan to work on the Strata 950 drill, used in what is known as “Plan A”. This week the drill reached a depth of 497 meters.
Another group of more than a dozen Canadians is working on the Plan B and C drills. Plan B reached 232 meters in the second phase of drilling, while Plan C reached 103 meters this week.
By Dominique Farrell – Santiago Times