October 12th, 2010
11:54 AM ET

After 68 days underground, miners' rescue to begin

Rescuers at the Chilean mine expect to begin the rescue of 33 trapped miners during "the last quarter" of Tuesday, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said.

"We hope to finish the day with at least one miner on the surface," he said.

The concrete base built for the winch system at the San Jose Mine in Chile has hardened, paving the way for the rescue of the miners to start tonight, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said. The winch that will pull the trapped miners out in Chile will extract them at .7 meters (2.3 feet) per second, Health Minister Jaime Malanich said. In case of emergency, the speed of ascension can be increased to 3 meters (9.8 feet) per second.

The attempted rescue, which the Chilean government said has been meticulously planned, is slated to begin late Tuesday and could last for hours or days. The 33 miners have been underground for 68 days.

CNN.com will have full coverage of the event and be carrying the Chilean mine rescue from beginning to end and on the iPhone.

With less than 24 hours before the operation begins, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said he is looking forward to the imminent rescue of the miners who are nearly half a mile below ground.

See high-resolution photos from the site

Rescue workers and officials said they are hopeful - they've tested out the rescue capsule - and are making final preparations, including monitoring the miners' health and preparing special diets for them. Still, during the tumultuous ascent, officials will be concerned about the effect of barometric pressure on the men's bodies as they are brought up - and the "bends" and "chokes" that could occur.

Video: CNN's Rafael Romo takes a look at the rescue capsule that will be used

The rescues, if they occur without a hiccup, also will bring a dramatic change in environment for the miners - something that officials will be monitoring, too.

The mine collapsed August 5, blocking the main ramp into the mine. Thirty-one miners quickly found a "workshop" in one of the mine's caverns, while two others followed an errant white butterfly to the refuge after the dust cleared.

Video: Family members recall moment they heard the news

The 4-inch-wide boreholes through which the 33 miners receive tubes filled with food, water and other necessities would not be drilled for 18 more days.

See timeline of disaster, rescue attempt| Explore where miners are trapped

By the time they are removed, they will have been beneath the earth for about 1,700 hours. Much of that time will have been spent in the "Refuge 33" shelter that measures 538 square feet, the size of a cozy studio apartment.

A look at the life below for miners

Their relatives and friends have spent much of that time at Camp Hope - a makeshift city of tents and a place where they could all come to be debriefed, send messages to their loved ones and share their stories with the media.

Take a look at the 360-degree interactive panorama of Camp Hope

Now, they eagerly await and hope for their loved ones' embraces. The whole world also will be watching - and waiting to see as each miner emerges in the rescue capsule, the door slowly opens and they step back onto the solid above-ground desert land where their descent first began.

Planning to watch the rescue? Share your reaction

Only then, perhaps, can there be a collective sigh from those who have worked for more than two months to make sure these rescues would be successful.

Barring any problems with the rescue, there still will be a long road ahead for the miners.

But just like the name of the baby born recently to one of the miners, Esperanza, there also will be plenty of hope - for the families, the miners and their future.

soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Kris Schlitt

    I wish all the luck to the miners i hope all 33 of you come up alive and strong ... Do not give up...

    October 12, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |


    October 12, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rolandoName*

    all I have to say about the miners is that I'm glad that there alive and well but I especially thank our lord jesus christ 4 having mercy on them and giving them another second chance in life.

    October 12, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nanny San

    God bless each of you and be by your side on this journey. We are praying for you, your familes and the rescuers from the heart of Texas. The world is united tonight in our hope and joy and prayers for you.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bruce Lee & Jackie Chan

    Congratulations!!! All 33 of you heroes will be rescued. Thanks to everyone who work behind the scene to make this possible. Gong Xi Gong Xi !!!!

    October 13, 2010 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pat in Oregon

    Ray ban should have donated all of the sunglasses for these guys. Some good free advertising.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kathy

    I think it would be great to declare an annual World Miner's Day on the date that the last miner is rescued. Men consistently risk their lives so that we can reap the benefits of treasures from within our earth, and I think they should be acknowledged for that much more often than just when things go wrong. Those who have spent their lives mining without mishap can be remembered, with special tribute for those who were lost or, as it is currently going with these men, joyously rescued. Technology is great, and God is Awesome- and we are seeing both at work here!

    October 13, 2010 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Shimelis

    Chilean miners ! you start new life Congra!!! Bless be with u & the prayer chain all over the world– Shimelis From Ethiopia
    –east Africa

    October 13, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. cheryl moore

    I just want to let them know that our prayers and thoughts have been with all of the miners from day one and today is the greatest day. in which they are getting out and going home. I wish everyone all the very best of time and happiness and great health in the days to come.. just take it one day at a time and celebrate life to the fullest. we are watching and cheering each one that comes up. I am so thankful that everyone is alive and well. God is good, god is great and have been watching over each one of you. cheryl moore

    October 13, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Liz

    Why do they call it chile mierda?

    October 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rhonda Mangum

    These are the toughest men I have ever seen!!! God Bless and Keep everyone of you! You are destined for much greater things! God Bless your spirits and amazing sense of survival. Here's to you!!!

    October 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sanjay

    "The SEIU and comiunmty organizers were not involved." elrondHow do you know that?

    February 11, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
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