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Rescuers progressing toward Chilean miners

SAN JOSE, Chile, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Rescuers attempting to bore 2,300 feet down a Chilean mine to free 33 workers say they are making rapid progress and the men could be out sooner than thought.

Senior engineer Rene Aguilar told the BBC Wednesday one of the drills boring down to reach the men has cut through 164 feet of rock in 24 hours -- a pace that could possibly bring the miners to the surface by the middle of October.

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The miners have been trapped in a collapsed underground Chilean desert mine since Aug. 5.

"This headway is some of the best we have had and it is due to the better continuity we have had with this drill," the head of the rescue operation, Andrew Sougarret, said.

"We have reached 300 meters (985 feet), which is the area where we have had the most unfavorable geological conditions, so hopefully we can think about maintaining this rhythm of drilling."

Relatives of the miners, who have been camped out at the San Jose mine since its collapse, cheered when the progress was announced, the BBC said.

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