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September 8, 2010

Trapped in a Chilean mine

Over a month ago, on August 5, 2010, the roof of the San Jose copper and gold mine collapsed, trapping 33 miners inside, 700 meters (2,300 ft) below ground near Copiapo, Chile. The fate of the miners was not immediately known - it took 17 days before a drill reached their refuge, discovering them alive and well. Rescue work began immediately, but even with several concurrent plans underway, the quickest likely rescue will still take two to three months. Until then, the 33 men will have to endure high temperatures and humidity in isolated conditions. A video link has been established, many relatives have set up camp nearby, and food, air, messages and supplies are delivered by several narrow boreholes. Fluorescent lights with timers are to be sent down to attempt to keep the men on a normal schedule by imitating day and night as they care for each other and assist in their own rescue. Once it reaches them, the diameter of the rescue borehole will be very narrow. so each miner will have to ensure they have a waistline of no more than 90 cm (35 in) to escape. (42 photos total)

Relatives wait outside a collapsed mine where about 33 miners are trapped in Copiapo, Chile, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

Rescue workers gather outside the San Jose mine where miners were trapped near Copiapo, northern Chile, Friday, Aug. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo) #

View of the entrance of the San Esteban copper and gold mine, near the city of Copiapo, in the arid Atacama desert, 800 kilometers (480 miles) north of Santiago, on August 6, 2010. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #

Miner Daniel Espinoza waits outside a collapsed copper and gold mine to help in the rescue effort for 33 trapped miners in Copiapo, Chile, Saturday Aug. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo) #

Relatives rest next to a copper and gold mine where 33 miners are trapped in Copiapo, Chile on August 6, 2010. Rescuers struggled on Friday to reach the miners trapped in the small mine in northern Chile after a cave-in a day earlier, hoping miners took refuge in an underground shelter with oxygen and water. (REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado) #

Relatives of trapped miners hold each other outside the San Esteban gold and copper mine on August 8, 2010. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Chilean mounted policeman stands guard at the entrance of the San Esteban gold and copper mine on August 17, 2010. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

Miners carry an effigy of Saint Lorenzo, patron saint of miners, before a mass outside a collapsed mine where about 33 miners are trapped in Copiapo, Chile on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo) #

Chilean workers start a drilling machine outside the San Esteban gold and copper mine on August 17, 2010, trying to reach 33 trapped miners 12 days after the mine collapsed. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

Relatives of trapped miners pray and light candles on an altar outside the San Esteban gold and copper mine on August 17, 2010. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

Relatives of the miners trapped in the San Esteban gold and copper mine, stand by as the news comes that a probe has reached the place were they might be located on August 22, 2010. A drill probe seeking to determine whether 33 miners trapped for two weeks in a Chilean mine were still alive finally arrived at an emergency refuge where they might be, but no news of their situation has been released so far. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images) #

In this frame grab from TV channel 24 Horas, Chile's Mining Minister Laurence Golborne, left, smiles as an unidentified official listens to unknown sounds coming from the area of a collapsed mine where about 33 miners have been trapped for 17 days in Copiapo, Chile, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010. The text at bottom reads in Spanish "Moment that it (a drill) reaches 688 meters. Miner indicates that 'knocking is heard'." (AP Photo) #

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera shows a message reading "We are fine in the refuge, the 33 of us", from the miners trapped in the San Esteban gold and copper mine on August 22, 2010. The miners are alive and contact was established with them 17 days after a structural collapse trapped them below ground. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images) #

Relatives of trapped miners react after learning that the 33 miners were found alive on August 22, 2010. (REUTERS/Hector Retamal) #

Chileans celebrate in the streets of Santiago after the confirmation of the survival of the 33 trapped miners on August 22, 2010. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

A TV grab taken from the Chilean National TV (TVN) shows the face of Florencio Antonio Avalos Silva, one of 33 trapped miners during the first contact with a video camera after 17 days, in San Esteban gold and copper mine on August 22, 2010. (TVN/AFP/Getty Images) #

Relatives of 33 trapped miners wave to rescue workers outside the collapsed San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile on Monday, Aug. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/ Roberto Candia) #

A car travels on the main road to the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile on August 23, 2010. 18 days after a cave-in, rescuers sent trapped Chilean miners supplies of saline and glucose through a narrow drill hole on Monday, and now face a months-long, half-mile dig to save them. (REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado) #

Carlos Araya places the image of San Expedito, Saint Expeditus, next to a Chilean flag with the name of a relative, one of the 33 miners trapped at the collapsed San Jose mine on Monday, Aug. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/ Roberto Candia) #

A television camera mounted in the nose of a probe before is sent to the miners of the San Jose mine on August 25, 2010. Chile's trapped miners say they are enduring "hell" underground, putting urgency into a rescue operation that is about to start but could drag on for months before providing salvation. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

Relatives show each other a video recorded with a camera in a probe on August 26, 2010 of the miners still trapped inside the San Jose mine on August 26, 2010. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images) #

Candles are lit behind a religious statue in front of which relatives pray for the 33 miners trapped underground in the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile on August 26, 2010. (REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado) #

Carola Narvaez, wife of Raul Bustos, one of the miners trapped in the collapsed San Jose mine, reads a letter addressed to her that was retrieved from her trapped husband as she sits in a shelter outside the mine on Thursday Aug. 26, 2010. Narvaez and her husband are also survivors of Chile's massive February earthquake. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #

The granddaughter of trapped miner Mario Gomez, Marion Gallardo, writes a letter to her grandfather on August 25, 2010. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

Relatives of trapped miners Renan and Florencio Avalo raise a tattered Chilean flag on a hill overlooking the camp where the families of the trapped miners wait outside the collapsed San Jose mine on Saturday Aug. 28, 2010. This flag was transformed into a symbol of resilience in Chile when an earthquake survivor was photographed pulling it from the wreckage of the February 27th earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia) #

A folding bed and supplies, including clothes, toiletries and games, that will be sent to the miners trapped underground in the San Jose mine, on August 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado) #

Workers stand by the narrow pipe that keeps communication open with miners who are trapped inside the collapsed San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile on Sunday Aug. 29, 2010. The trapped miners half mile underground will have to aid their own escape clearing tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia) #

Relatives of miners trapped alive in the San Jose mine stand among Chilean flags outside the mine on Sunday Aug. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia) #

A composite picture of the 33 miners trapped in the San Jose mine. (AFP/Getty Images) #

A person stands on the top of a hill near the camp where relatives of trapped miners wait for news outside the collapsed San Jose mine on Aug. 30, 2010. (AP Photo/ Roberto Candia) #

A worker checks a medical air machine for the miners that are trapped in a deep underground mine on August 29, 2010. Chile was looking at ways on Saturday to speed up the rescue of the trapped miners. (REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado) #

Food, which includes rice, meatballs, fruits, cheese and bread, meant for the miners trapped underground, are displayed at Copiapo, Chile on September 1, 2010. Already deprived of sunlight, fresh air and their loved ones for 27 days, NASA doctors say the miners trapped deep in a Chilean mine must continue to forego two other pleasures: alcohol and cigarettes. (REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado) #

A frame grab shows some of the miners trapped underground in a copper and gold mine at Copiapo on September 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Chilean Government) #

Evangelic Minister Javier Soto dedicates one of the 33 mini-bibles that will be given to the miners trapped in the San Jose mine in Copiapo on August 31, 2010. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

Tents sit in the camp where the relatives of trapped miners wait outside the collapsed San Jose mine on Thursday Sept. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia, Pool) #

Workers operate the Xtrata 950 drill that is digging an escape hole from the top of a hill to where miners are trapped underground on September 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Martin Mejia/Pool) #

Relatives of Claudio Yanez, one of the 33 trapped miners, participate in his video conference in Copiapo, Chile on September 4, 2010. (Chilean Ministry of Mining/AFP/Getty Images) #

Members of a folkloric ballet perform at the camp where relatives of trapped miners wait for news outside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile, on Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/ Roberto Candia) #

Relatives of trapped miners attend a mass given by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, the archbishop of Santiago, in honor of the men trapped in Copiapo on September 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Luis Hidalgo) #

View of the "T-130" drill, named "Plan B", working to rescue the 33 trapped miners in the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile on September 6, 2010. Drillers have begun two approaches - "Plan A" and "Plan B" - with a quicker "Plan C" route scheduled to begin on September 18. The latter could reduce the rescue time to two months at best, having to only drill some 597 meters (1,958 feet) to reach the trapped workers. (ARIEL MARINKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) #

A television screen shows some of the miners trapped in the San Jose mine as they watch an international friendly soccer match between Chile and Ukraine while inside the mine on September 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Chilean Government) #

Maria Segovia, sister of Dario Segovia, who is one of the miners trapped in the San Jose mine, watches the same soccer match between Chile and Ukraine at their camp in Copiapo, Chile on September 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Luis Hidalgo) #

 
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