Thirty-three Chilean miners trapped more than two weeks underground sent up a message tied to a drill that said they were all alive. President Pinera said he was hopeful of a "happy ending", even though it would take months to get them out.
REUTERS - Thirty-three miners trapped underground for more than two weeks after a cave-in said they are all alive in a message tied to a drill, Chilean authorities said on Sunday.
President Sebastian Pinera said the piece of paper was tied to a drill that rescuers used to bore through to the area where the miners are located. But he said it will take months to get the trapped miners out.
"The 33 of us in the shelter are well," read the message held up by Pinera on television.
"It will take months (to get them out). It will take time, but it doesn't matter how long it takes, but to have a happy ending," the president said.
Relatives hugged and kissed as news of the message reverberated outside the entrance to the mine, where they have been camped out since the mine caved in on Aug. 5.
Rescuers plan to send narrow plastic tubes down the narrow borehole with food, hydration gels and communications equipment. Deep in the mine, there are deposits of water and
ventilation shafts that could help the miners survive.
Relatives of those trapped said rescue workers had found a message painted on a small drill used to perforate around 700 meters down into the mine confirming they were alive in the small gold and copper mine near the northern city of Copiapo.
Rescue workers said a small-bore drill had reached nearly 700 meters underground and had perforated a tunnel near to where the miners are believed to have sought refuge.
Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said rescue workers would lower a camera and microphones in a bid to locate and contact the miners.
The miners are 4.5 miles (7 km) inside the winding mine and about 700 meters vertically underground.
Rescue workers say it could take 120 days to dig a new tunnel to reach the miners after the main mine ramp collapsed.
The government said earlier this month that the likelihood of finding the miners alive was low.
Pinera sacked top officials of Chile's mining regulator and vowed a major overhaul of the agency in light of the accident.
Serious mining accidents are rare in Chile, but the government says the San Jose mine, owned by local private company Compania Minera San Esteban Primera, has suffered a
series of mishaps and 16 workers were killed in recent years.
Date created : 2010-08-22