Chile mine rescuers face tough challenge to save miners

By Adrian Brown, BBC News

The plan to rescue the 33 men trapped 700m (2,300ft) underground in the San Jose copper mine in Chile is a complex undertaking that could take engineers until the end of the year to achieve.

In a similar operation in 2002, American rescuers spent two days drilling a hole just wide enough to fit a man to rescue nine miners trapped underground.

The Americans had to drill down just 74m. By comparison, the plan to rescue the 33 men in Chile nearly three quarters of a kilometre underground is a much greater challenge. But, says John Urosek, who took part in the 2002 Quecreek mine rescue in Pennsylvania, it is not “mission impossible.”

“I would put this at the tough end of things. It’s not mission impossible but it’s a difficult mission,” says Mr Urosek who is now chief of mine emergency operations for the US Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The key to the operation is the use of a specialist drilling machine, designed to bore deep narrow holes through any rock to a depth of just over a kilometre.

To read more, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11089726

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