Rescuers believe that the “Plan B” drill, slowly working its way down to the trapped miners in Chile, will reach its destination by Saturday. The drill has less than 100 meters left to go before it hits the area where the miners have been stuck since August 5th.
Once the drill has reached its destination, the rescuers will have to determine whether to encase all or part of the shaft in steel. Depending on which they choose, it could take from 20 hours to 8 days before they are ready to begin bringing the miners up through the shaft to the surface.
After each miner reaches the surface, they will undergo a medical evaluation at a field hospital before being allowed to see one or two family members. After the reunions, and once all the miners are above ground, they will be transported to a hospital, where they will remain under observation for several days. The goal is to prepare their bodies for things they have not been exposed to while underground, such as sunlight and germs.
Family members are holding a vigil at the site of the mine until the drill reaches the miners.
Two other drilling rigs continue to dig their way down to the cavern that the 33 miners are trapped in. These are referred to as the “Plan A” and “Plan C” drills. They will serve as back ups in case anything fails with the first shaft.
The miners have been trapped nearly a mile underground for nine weeks now. They are receiving food, water, and other basic supplies through a small tunnel that was drilled down to them two weeks after a portion of the mine collapsed. They can communicate with the outside world, and have received items, such as games, cards, movies and movie players, to help pass the time. They have also been receiving both physical and mental training, in preparation for what could be a harrowing ride up the shaft, in a small capsule, that has been designed specifically for this rescue attempt.