Officials working to free 33 trapped miners in a collapsed Chilean mine said Tuesday they had cleared a drilling hole that was blocked by a shattered drill bit.
Engineer Rene Aguilar said all the pieces of the broken drill bit that were in the hole drilled by the Plan B operation had been removed, and drilling could begin again soon.
The Plan B drill is widening a narrow hole drilled when rescuers first searched for the miners after the mine collapsed August 5. That drill was making the fastest progress of the other rescue operations - Plan A and Plan C - when it hit an obstruction, possibly a reinforcement beam, at a depth of 268 meters (879 feet).
"This bit was upside down and we used a spider ... to pull it out," Aguilar said, holding up the "nose" of the bit that he said weighed about 12 kilograms (about 26 pounds).
"Spiders" are specially designed claws that were made to pull out the broken drill pieces.
A second customized bit was expected to arrive later Tuesday, and Aguilar said a camera was being lowered into the hole to check it out before drilling restarts.