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Rescue workers battling to save 33 trapped miners in Chile are waiting for cement to dry in an escape shaft after a fault was found in the early stages of drilling. But there is still good news for the miners, 700 meters underground. They may get their wish for a drop of wine to celebrate Chilean independence day.
Rescuers started drilling a 66-cm diameter shaft on Monday evening that will be used to evacuate the miners one at a time in a cage attached to a pulley. But work was halted after the discovery of the fault on Thursday.
Chief engineer said drilling was expected to resume Friday.
Andre Sougarret, Chief Engineer, said, "We are at 41 meters, yesterday we informed everyone about the presence of a geological fault, which is normal within the first 100 meters. We are currently cementing the well, that will take about 12 hours, it will take its due course for the cement to set and then we will restart the drilling at about 1am in the morning."
Health workers and psychological experts are striving to keep the men physically and mentally fit for the long wait ahead.
So far, requests for beer and wine have fallen on deaf ears, but the country's Health Minister, said Thursday that independence celebrations in mid-September might bring a surprise.
Jaime Manalich, Chile Health Minister, said, "September 18 will be a unique occurrence for the entire country, the 200th anniversary of independence, and we need to share that with the miners who will certainly still be in the mine. We need to share this joy and we will find a good way to do that, probably send them a bit of empanada and a little bit of red wine so they can toast and we will send them some flags and traditional music."
Doctors say the miners are in good health, but have told them to move to a new location deeper in the tunnel to try to reduce exposure to humidity that could cause disease or fungus.