Photo: The New York Times
Engineers have completed the inspection of the shaft and concluded they must only reinforce the top few hundred feet.
The plan is to insert 16 sections of half-inch(1.27 centimeter)-thick steel pipe into the top of the hole, which curves like a waterfall at first before becoming nearly vertical for most of its descent into a chamber deep in the mine. That work would begin immediately, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said.
Then an escape capsule built by Chilean naval engineers, its spring-loaded wheels pressing against the hole’s walls, can be lowered into it via a winch and the trapped miners brought up one by one.
“All rescues have their risks,” Golborne said. “You can never say that an accident couldn’t happen.”
Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the miners’ anxiety is growing about starting their rescue, an operation that should take about a day and a half to complete as they are pulled out one by one in a specially built capsule.
Manalich also confirmed that a list has been drawn up suggesting the order in which the 33 miners should be rescued. The final order will be determined by a Navy special forces paramedic who will be lowered into the mine to prepare the men for their journey.