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Chilean Miners Could Be Trapped Until Christmas

Although thirty-three trapped miners are alive and safe, they have a long wait ahead.

The Chilean miners have been trapped underground for 17 days and were feared dead after a terrible industrial accident. However, Chilean president Sebastian Pinera shocked his country yesterday when he announced that the trapped miners had sent a note through a bore hole that revealed all 33 men had survived.

The note was written in red with capitol letters and stated, "All 33 of us are well inside the shelter."

The men were working at a depth of 2,300 feet at the San Jose gold and copper mine when the rock above them collapsed on August 5.

Rescuers discovered that there had been survivors of the mining accident when they heard hammering sounds.

As the news of the miners' survival spread across Chile, drivers in Santiago honked their horns and celebrations with thousands of people took place in other cities. President Pinera stated, "Today all of Chile is crying with excitement and joy."

However, amidst the joy came some somber news. Andres Sougarret, the engineer in charge of the rescue mission, stated that it would take at least 120 days to free the men. A second shaft will have to be carved that is wide enough to pull the miners up one-by-one.

A camera was lowered into the bore hole yesterday, which captured images of the sweaty miners in good condition. The miner's shelter is hot, about 90-97 degrees, but the men seemed in good spirits. The regional director of the National Emergency Office said yesterday that the miners would be receiving fresh supplies of water and food, which would need to be carefully rationed.

This is one of the longest periods of time miners have been trapped in recent history. Three workers were trapped for 25 days in a southern China last year, and two miners were trapped for 23 days in north-eastern China in 1983.

Because the men have survived after 17 days, they are all expected to survive the ordeal.

Source: "Chile's trapped miners could be stuck until Christmas" 8/23/10 

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