A Shaft Of Hope Opens For Trapped Miners There's been a breakthrough, literally, in the story of 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped underground since Aug. 5. This morning, a drill boring a shaft to reach the miners broke through to the underground space they have occupied for the past 66 days. Now rescuers have to decide whether it's safe to extract the men. Host Scott Simon talks to reporter Annie Murphy at the scene in Copiapo, Chile.
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A Shaft Of Hope Opens For Trapped Miners

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A Shaft Of Hope Opens For Trapped Miners

A Shaft Of Hope Opens For Trapped Miners

A Shaft Of Hope Opens For Trapped Miners

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/130452322/130452301" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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There's been a breakthrough, literally, in the story of 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped underground since Aug. 5. This morning, a drill boring a shaft to reach the miners broke through to the underground space they have occupied for the past 66 days. Now rescuers have to decide whether it's safe to extract the men. Host Scott Simon talks to reporter Annie Murphy at the scene in Copiapo, Chile.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Annie, thanks very much for being with us.

ANNIE MURPHY: Thank you.

SIMON: What was the reaction like when that bell sounded and the breakthrough was known?

MURPHY: So it's just, you know, a very - the camp is very exuberant this morning.

SIMON: The breakthrough being noted, there are some very testing days ahead with some very delicate engineering, right?

MURPHY: Now we have the actual rescue of these men, the physical extraction of them from, you know, where they are, almost half a mile underground. And that's a very delicate operation. So they need to - right now they're going to start, you know, preparing this tunnel in order to receive these rescue capsules that they prepared for the men and figure out exactly what kind of conditions they're looking at in terms of pulling the men out from underground.

SIMON: Now, I mean, help us understand this, because, firstly, that path is not straight down. There's some twists and turns, which always present the possibility that the rescue capsule could get snagged on something. And they have to decide, as I understand it, whether or not to line that rescue - I guess the passage, we'd call it now - with some kind of tubing to prevent rocks from caving in.

MURPHY: And then also if they line the tunnel with this casing, that doesn't mean that it's a, you know, a straight shot and smooth sailing. If they line the tunnel, this lining itself could become upset or disturbed and could also cause hitches for this capsule going up and down. So there's no one way that they, you know, have an assured, you know, easy rescue going on.

SIMON: Do we know a timetable? And I know there are plans to lower a couple of rescue workers down there as soon as possible too.

MURPHY: And that could be anywhere from, you know, two days to eight days if they decide to line the tunnel entirely, that they actually start sending down the capsule with people in it. The first capsule will go down with - well, the first two trips will be lowering down a miner and then also lowering down a medical professional - a paramedic or a doctor - who will - together they'll help evaluate what exactly the condition is of these miners that are down below and help plan how they're going to be lifted to the surface.

SIMON: We've just about run out of time, but boy, has this story captured Chile, hasn't it?

MURPHY: It really has. People are just riveted here. I mean, they don't really talk about anything else in the news these days.

SIMON: Well, Annie, thanks so much for being with us and we'll talk to you later.

MURPHY: Thank you.

SIMON: Reporter Annie Murphy. And recapping the news, rescuers in Chile have drilled a shaft into the underground space where 33 miners have been trapped since August 5. We'll bring you more news as we learn of it.

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