Exactly one month after 33 men were trapped underground in a Chilean mine rescuers have revealed a back-up rescue operation.
Plan B involves sinking a second shaft to the men 700 metres down in case the first one fails.
Chile’s mining minister said despite all the rescuers’ efforts it will be some considerable time before the miners breath fresh air on the surface again.
Laurence Golborne said: “Our scenarios put us somewhere at the beginning of November to reach them. Obviously we are trying as hard as we can, but people mustn’t think, as some have said, that we’ll have a result by September 18th. That’s impossible.”
Families and the men below ground are able to communicate by a video link lowered down a narrow emergency shaft. But even so, the wait seems interminable for those on the surface.
Cristina Nunez said: “We have this constant pain. It’s a tremendous pain. I know he is alright, but I just feel that I want him to be here.”
It is one of the world’s most challenging rescue operations. But engineers say despite the inherent risks they are reasonably certain of a successful outcome.