Chilean miners may be free by mid-month

SANTIAGO, Chile, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Chile's president said Monday 33 miners trapped deep underground could be freed by mid-month, and the men are getting tips on how to deal with the media.

Psychiatrist Alberto Iturra told The Santiago Times the miners are being coached on how to deal with the glare of the media spotlight once they return to the surface after months stuck in a mine shaft about 2,300 feet down.


"They're beginning the final phase of public speaking and public relations," Iturra said.

The BBC reported Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said rescuers were "very close" to getting the miners out and hoped they would be rescued before his planned Oct. 17 trip to Europe.

"I hope we can rescue them before I go to Europe, I want to share that moment with the miners," he said.

The men were trapped by a rockfall Aug. 5. Officials had projected it would be November before they would freed but officials said one of the drills boring down toward the miners, known as "Plan B," had reached a depth of 1,400 feet Sunday and could reach them by Thursday.

The borehole will then be reinforced with a metal sleeve before the miners can be extricated, the Times said.


Another drill, called "Plan C," had passed the 650-foot mark but needed to be repositioned to intersect with the miners' location. A third drill, "Plan A," had reached about 1,925 feet but was stopped Sunday after encountering technical problems with a drill hammer.

Once the rescue equipment and procedures are in place, medics and rescue experts are expected travel down into the mine to help the miners get out, the newspaper said. The order in which the miners will be brought to the surface is to be based on medical, psychological and other factors.

After being brought to the surface, the miners will be housed in special containers brought to the mine site before being taken to a hospital to be checked out. The climate-controlled units have private rooms with a bed and chairs for visiting relatives.

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