A rescuer speaking to miners by video conferencing, in a photo released by the Chilean Ministry of Mining

The “Plan B” drill has just 160 meters to go until it reaches the 33 miners trapped deep inside a gold and copper mine in Chile. The miners have been trapped since August 5th, when a portion of the mine collapsed and left them stranded nearly a mile underground

The progress the drill has made has moved up the potential time table for the rescue. However, officials are reminding everyone that, while the men may be closer freedom, the process of bringing them up will be long and dangerous.

It is now expected that the men will be brought to the surface between October 15 and October 30, much sooner than originally anticipated. But there are still many factors to consider before rescue teams begin lifting the men out.

For instance, there is still a question as to whether or not rescue workers should insert a steel tube into the rescue shaft to reinforce it. Doing so would add days worth of work for rescuers, but would provide more safety to the miners as they were being rescued. Reportedly, plans are in place to reinforce one section, but whether to reinforce the entire shaft is still being debated.

There are currently 3 drilling rigs drilling shafts down to the miners. They are referred to as plans “A”, “B”, and “C”. Regardless of how many drills actually reach the miners, only one opening will be used to transport them to safety. The other shafts will be reserved as backups in case something happens to the first.

The rescue plan involves bringing the miners to the surface via a cage or “capsule”.  It will have oxygen and wired communication. Officials are concerned that the size of the capsule will be a tight fit for some of the miners, but a trainer who has been working with the miners believes they will all fit. The physical part of the training is now focusing on strengthening the miners legs, to prepare them for standing up to an hour in the capsule during the rescue.

As of right now, there is no final list as to the order in which miners will be brought up from the mine. It has been said that it will depend on their physical and mental health at the time.

Once the miners are rescued they will be taken to a field hospital for a check-up, IV fluids and antibiotics. Then they will be sent to a hospital where they will remain for two or more days. The main concerns are retina damage and exposure to germs once they reach the surface.