Chile miners: Underground refuge

Thirty three men were trapped underground when part of the San Jose mine, in Chile's Atacama desert, collapsed on 5 August.

Further rockfalls hindered early rescue attempts and officials warned that the chance of finding the miners alive was slim.

But contact was eventually made on 22 August when a rescue team's drill probe broke through the area where the miners were sheltering - about 700m below the surface - and they attached a note saying: "All 33 of us are well inside the shelter."

Since then, the rescuers have sent food and medical supplies, specialist clothing, camp beds and other equipment down the borehole to make their lives more comfortable.

The men have identified four water sources, two of which are suitable for drinking once treated with chlorine.

A zone of about 1km has been designated for the miners to move around in. They have divided into three groups - the refuge group, the ramp group and level 105 group - each named after the part of the tunnel they are living in.

A hand-drawn sketch sent up by trapped miner Jose Ojeda shows how the three groups are divided and the areas where they are sleeping.

They also have designated places for resting, washing and a toilet area. Artificial lighting helps them keep a day and night routine - which psychologists say is important for living and sleeping patterns.

Rescue operations

There are three drilling operations underway - using different types of machinery.

The Plan B operation - drilling a pilot hole for rescue shaft 2 - reached a workshop a few hundred metres from the miners' refuge on 17 September. But it will still take a few more weeks for the 630m (2,060ft) deep hole to be redrilled to allow the miners to be pulled out. The final width will need to be about 70cm (28in).

The Plan A operation - currently drilling a pilot hole for rescue shaft 1 - has reached a depth of 320m.

Plan C, using machinery usually used in oil drilling, started on 19 September.

More on This Story

Chile's Trapped Miners

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