Entries in Copiapo (2)


Rescued Chilean Miners Return to Pray at San Jose Mine

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COPIAPO, Chile) -- Less than a week after their rescue, a number of the 33 Chilean miners who for two months were trapped a half-mile below the earth’s surface, attended a religious mass Sunday at the San Jose mine.

Miners arrived to a flurry of journalists, many looking to snap video and pictures of the men and their families.

“Let them pass,” a police officer could be heard telling the media in Spanish. “They are not the Beatles.”

“Clearly it is difficult for some to return to the mine so soon after they just tasted freedom for the first time in 10 months,” said ABC’s Neal Karlinsky, who looked on as the men arrived.

As the rescued miners celebrated mass, a group of about 25 miners who also worked at the mine protested. Carrying signs that read "Somos 300, No 33" translation: "We are 300 not 33," these miners are upset that when the mine closes, unlike the rescued 33, they will not get financial assistance from the Chilean government.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Breakthrough: Drill Reaches Site of 33 Trapped Chilean Miners

Photo Courtesy - HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images(COPIAPO, Chile) -- A rescue drill has reached the underground site where 33 Chilean miners have been trapped since August 5.

Rescuers could begin pulling the men to the surface as early as Tuesday.

Engineers will now use a camera to check the 26"-wide shaft for loose rocks that could tumble on the miners.  They expect to line at least some of the 2,000-foot shaft with ½" steel casing.

"The casing process is not without risks," said Chile's Minister of Mines, Laurence Golborne.  "I mean, you have a 700 meter hole with pipes that weigh 150 tons... If you don't do it in a proper way, you can lose one of the parts or casings, and that could be a tremendous disaster, too."

Golborne said the installation of the steel piping will be checked using X-rays.

Once the rescue begins, a paramedic and rescue coordinator will then be lowered into the hole, and the men will be pulled out one-by-one, according to an exit list.  When the men reach the surface, they will have to wear sunglasses to protect their eyesight from the glare of daylight.

The miners will ride to the surface in a narrow, 21-inch wide capsule, barely larger than an 18-inch NBA basketball hoop.  Several have been put on special diets to make sure they can squeeze into the capsule.

First up will be several skilled men who will ride to the surface to make sure the system works.  There is an escape hatch at the bottom of the capsule if it gets stuck.  Once officials are confident the system is working, the most vulnerable men will ascend.  Healthier men will be pulled out last.  

When the disaster began, mining officials thought a rescue wouldn't be possible until December, but drilling has proceeded faster than expected, giving hope to the families waiting eagerly for their loved ones' return.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio