Sunday, October 10, 2010
Chilean miners prepare to see the light of day | World news | The Guardian
Rescuers worried that trapped miners may risk blood clots and panic attacks as they are hauled to the surface
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 10 October 2010 20.26 BST
larger | smaller
The grandchildren of Mario Gomez, one of the 33 trapped miners, waiting at the San José mine near Copiapo, Chile. The men are expected to start being brought out on Wednesday. Photograph: Ariel Marinkovic/AFP/Getty Images
The 33 miners trapped under Chile's Atacama desert today began preparing for their imminent rescue with a detailed medical checkup and a prescription of aspirin to prevent hypertension or blood clots as they are hauled nearly half a mile to the surface.
Emergency workers sent down special equipment to monitor the men's heart rates, respiration and skin temperature, said Chile's health minister, Jaime Manalich. If the rescue goes ahead as planned they could be winched up in just 20 minutes.
The rescue capsule is expected to rotate up to a dozen times as it rises through the 28-inch escape shaft, and to prevent nausea, the men have been given compression socks and a high-calorie liquid donated by Nasa.
Each escape capsule has been fitted with a two-way communication system and a video camera so each miner's face can be watched by rescuers, but Manalich said that the biggest concern for officials was that the men could suffer panic attacks during the ascent. "This is the first time in many weeks that the miners are going to be completely alone," he added.
The rescue team hopes to start extracting the men on Wednesday after reinforcing the top segment of the escape shaft with steel tubing.
A video inspection showed that most of the shaft, 622 metres deep, was solid rock and did not require a lining, speeding up a complex and often fraught challenge, officials said.
During conversations with the miners tonight, they were asked to help officials agree the order in which they will be hauled to the surface.