First of 3 rescue capsules arrives at Chilean mine
A daughter of one of the trapped men tries it out and deems it comfortable.
— The suspense over when and how the 33 trapped Chilean miners will exit their underground cavern grew in the seventh week of their accidental imprisonment as details of plans leaked out and the first of three specially built rescue capsules arrived at the mine Saturday.
The man-size capsule will be used to pull the miners out one by one once one of the three rescue holes being drilled reaches the men.
Mining Minister Laurence Golborne showed off the first capsule to relatives of the trapped miners Saturday.
About a dozen family members tried out the capsule, a 924-pound tube made of steel sheets and mesh that is big enough to hold one person.
Carolina Lobos, the 25year-old daughter of trapped miner Franklin Lobos, said the device seemed very small and confining when she first saw it. But after trying it out, she called it comfortable.
The capsule is nearly 10 feet tall on the outside. Inside, the space is about 6 feet high and about 21 inches across.
The bottom of the capsule holds three tanks of compressed air, enough for about 90 minutes of breathing.
The actual journey to the surface is expected to take 20 minutes.
Amicrophone inside will allow each miner to stay in touch with those inside and outside the mine while being pulled up, and in an emergency, such as the capsule getting jammed in the rescue hole, the bottom can be opened with levers inside so the miner can be lowered back down by cable.
It will be at least November before the rescue shaft reaches down almost half a mile to the miners at a wide enough diameter to accommodate a human body.
In preparing for that moment, rescue officials are discussing how to best divide the gold and copper diggers into three groups for logistical and health reasons.
Jorge Diaz, the rescue team’s head doctor, said the most technologically skillful miners would probably come first. That first group would probably have to be savvy enough to quickly help iron out kinks in the rescue system being built by the Chilean navy.
The next group would be the weakest and sickest, followed by the last group, Diaz said.
Diaz indicated that medical tests would determine how to classify the miners.
The final decision would be made by the rescue officer who is to be dropped down into the collapsed mine to assist the miners and explain the plan, Diaz said.
The rescue team recently has focused on ways to help the miners handle psychological and physical challenges once they emerge. Alberto Iturra, the head psychologist on the rescue team, said that workers will not see their families until they have been evaluated at a hospital.
The miners will also receive training in how to handle the pressure of the expected attention from the news media and how to handle money they may get for their stories.
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Carolina Lobos, the 25-year-old daughter of Franklin Lobos, one of 33 trapped miners, stands in the capsule designed by the Chilean navy.