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Trapped miners fear roof collapse
San Jose, Oct 12 (Agencies):
Published on 12 Oct. 2010 10:47 PM IST
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The 33 miners trapped deep underground in Chile have expressed fears that attempts to rescue them could cause the mine’s roof to collapse.
The men have been below ground for more than two months, but tomorrow rescuers plan to winch them to safety through an escape shaft. One of the miners has written a letter to his father, saying they have heard rocks falling and are afraid their shelter will cave in.
But officials say they have tested every step of the rescue operation and they are confident that all the men will see daylight tomorrow. Rescue operations chief Alejandro Pino says he has been helping the miners to write a speech for when they emerge. “Today, we tried to come up with a speech and I asked them to give me just one word, and with that word, I would show them how to come up with a speech,” he said.
“The word they chose to start with was extraordinary: it was ‘comradeship’.”
As engineers rush to reinforce the rescue shaft, the miners have argued over who should be freed first.
Chile’s health minister Jaime Manalich told a press conference near the San Jose mine that he had told the 33 men that officials were working on an order in which they would be brought out.
Mr Manalich said by being able to put aside their needs and wanting their colleagues to have a chance at freedom and fresh air first, “they have had a really commendable spirit of solidarity and commitment to their friends”. As to their health condition, the minister said they were in “very good shape”. Well into the night at the San Jose mine, the sky is still lit up with the lights of the rescue operation at the mine and also at Camp Hope, where the families of the miners have been staying.
There is a sense of excitement, anticipation and a growing euphoria at what is hoped will be a successful rescue. That excitement is also tempered by the knowledge that the rescue is now entering its most dangerous phase as rescuers begin to pull the miners one by one from where they have been trapped 700 metres below the earth. The other significant contingent present at the mine is the international media - a constant throb can be heard around the site from hundreds of generators servicing an estimated 1,700 international media outlets.

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