International

Rescue Only Hours Away For Chilean Miners

chile mine rescue workers

hide captionWorkers at the San Jose mine set the system to be used in the rescue operation of the 33 trapped miners near Copiapo, Chile, Monday Oct. 11, 2010.

Jorge Saenz/AP

The atmosphere at the surface is tense. The rescuers are ready to be lowered into the depths. An estimated thousand journalists have descended on the scene. Television networks are planning live broadcasts. The families have gathered. And tension is high says the Associated Press:

Feuds and jealousies have emerged over who got to take part in videoconferences with the miners, as well as over the issues of who is entitled to receive donated gifts and who will be allowed to meet with the miners when they get out.

Just when the miners will see the surface is unclear at the moment. Some officials say after midnight tonight, others say as early as 10 o'clock local time (9 pm EDT).

chile mine rescue diagram

hide captionThis graphic released by Chile's government on Monday Oct. 11, 2010 shows the system that will be used to lower and raise the capsule which trapped miners will use to exit the collapsed San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile.

Anonymous/Chilean Governmet

Here's how it will work. First down will be four rescuers, they'll assess the miners condition and help prep them for the 15 minute winding route to the surface. Each miner will be wearing protective goggles to protect their eyes, and will be wearing bio-monitors to assess their health.

First out will be those judged to be the most psychologically steady. That's in case something goes wrong on the way out. The miners will be able to disconnect the capsule and lower themselves back down if there's an issue on the ascent.

Next will be those with health issues. One miner has hypertension, another is diabetic, others have dental or respiratory issues, or skin lesions from months in the humid gallery where they are trapped.

After they are raised out they'll be taken through shielded inflatable tunnels to a medical triage area, then they will meet with one to three people the miners have chosen from their family and friends.

The whole operation should take about 48 hours. Last out, according to the Associated Press will be Luiz Urzua, the shift chief when the 33 men were trapped.

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