2 Oct 2010

Trapped Chilean miners could surface early

12:44 pm on 2 October 2010

Chile says an attempt to rescue 33 trapped miners will begin in the second half of October - earlier than previously predicted.

Mines Minister Laurence Golborne said on Friday that drilling of a rescue shaft to bring the men to the surface was going extremely well and would be completed by 15 October.

It will then take several days before rescue capsules can be lowered to the miners, 700 metres below ground.

The government previously said the rescue might happen in early November.

But on Wednesday, one of the drills cut through 50 metres of rock in only 24 hours, raising the hopes of the rescuers and the miners' families.

The BBC reports the fastest of the three drills has only about 250 metres further to go.

Field hospital being prepared

The men were trapped by a rock fall at the mine, about 725km north of Santiago, on 5 August.

A field hospital to give the men medical attention as and when they get out is being set up.

A platform to accommodate up to 1000 journalists from around the world who are expected to be at the mine to report on the rescue, is also being built.