The operation has begun in Chile to construct a rescue shaft it is hoped will free the 33 miners trapped 700 metres underground.
A huge Australian-made excavator began the work late on Monday night at the gold and copper mine.
The stage-by-stage process to reach the miners
will involve drilling a shaft which once finished will be about 60 centimetres wide.
The men, who’ve been able to send greetings to their families in a brief video, are not expected to see the light of day for another three to four months.
A team from Nasa is expected to arrive today at the mine in Copiapo, some 800 kilometres north of the Chilean capital. It includes two doctors and a psychologist and will advise both miners and rescuers on how to cope with a situation that bears similarities to that experienced by astronauts.
While the miners have been sent supplies ranging from medicine to mp3 players, their families have set up base at the head of the mine, calling it Camp Hope.