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Chilean Miners Close to Rescue

By: CBS
By: CBS

The 33 miners trapped underground in Chile are hours away from rescue. The escape shaft was completed Monday after almost 10 weeks.

This could be the last night underground for some of the 33 miners.

Rescue workers in Chile say they'll be ready to start lifting the men to the surface -- one by one -- beginning just after midnight, early Wednesday morning. It will take about 48 hours to get all of them out.

Workers finished reinforcing and testing the escape shaft on Monday. They lowered the rescue capsule and raised it back up without a hitch.

"No concerns at all,” said Chilean Minister of Mining Laurence Golborne. “We are prepared for any weather conditions to conduct this rescue process."

A paramedic and several mining experts will be lowered into the mine to help coordinate the rescue from below.

Then, each miner will be sealed into a narrow capsule... for a claustrophobic, twisting, two-thousand foot ride to the top that will take about 20 minutes.

Several have actually volunteered to be the last to go.

A psychologist who's been counseling the men says "they are ready, they are very positive people, and they're going to do very well."

More than two months after the miners were trapped, a giant drill finally broke through over the weekend.

"It was just unbelievable,” said rescue worker Brandon Fischer. “I mean the feelings and emotion that everyone was going through, it was just indescribable."

Families thought these reunions might never come.

“I know I'm going to hug him, but probably when that moment comes, I'll just cry and scream,” said one of the miner’s mother, Antonia Godoy.

After the rescues will come the lawsuits. 27 of the families have filed a $10 million negligence case against the mining company.

Immediately after being rescued, the miners will be checked by medics and re-united with their families. They'll then be flown to a military hospital for recuperation.


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