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Rescuers braced to free trapped miners

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Rescuers braced to free trapped miners

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Rescue teams in Chile are making their final preparations to reach the 33 trapped miners.

The drill being used to cut their escape tunnel is now less than 100 metres from the refuge where the men have been living since August 5.

Officials say they could get through by Saturday.

The decision will be then whether the 66-centimetre hole will need to be reinforced with steel piping.

Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Goldborne said the first miners could be brought to the surface by Monday if the rescue goes to plan.

The miners’ only contact with the outside world over the past eight weeks has been through small drill holes through which people have passed down food, water, medicine and games.

They were initially feared dead until they made contact with officials on the surface 17 days after the accident.