Heavy drilling equipment has begun work on sinking a rescue shaft by which it’s hoped Chile’s 33 trapped miners will eventually be brought to safety.
The emergency effort is proving an unprecedented challenge involving up to four months of drilling through 700 metres of solid rock.
Each man will then be individually hauled up in a cage – the trip is likely to take up to three hours.
The shaft will follow a route parallel to the supply one which is currently the men’s life line to the outside world.
Helping to keep them both physically and mentally healthy is a special team from the US space agency NASA. They have expertise regarding astronauts living for months in cramped conditions and experiencing sensory deprivation.
NASA’s Deputy Chief Doctor Michael Duncan said: “Our astronauts are actually isolated for these long periods of time, but of course the ability for communication and re supply of food and that sort of thing makes it a bit of a different environment for them.”
Meanwhile everything is being thought of to keep the trapped men’s ordeal as bearable as possible…nicotine gum for the smokers, personal items such as tooth paste and deodorant are just a few of the things sent down the crucial supply shaft