Chile's president euphorically waved a note, written deep inside a collapsed mine, that his country had waited 17 agonising days to see: "All 33 of us are fine in the shelter." But the miners' ordeal may have just begun - rescuers say it could take four months - until around Christmas - to get them out.
Authorities and relatives of the miners hugged, climbed a nearby hill, planted 33 flags and sang the national anthem on Sunday after a probe sent 2,257 feet deep into the mine came back with the note, written in red by one of the trapped miners, The Press Association says.
Until Sunday, there had been no sign that the miners had survived their ordeal. But then came the notes attached to a line that had been lowered through a narrow shaft drilled into the emergency shelter.
Despite the dramatic breakthrough, the chief engineer of the rescue operation, Andres Sougarret, said it would take at least four months of drilling to reach and bring out the trapped miners. Extricating the miners requires a more powerful digging machine to drill a big enough shaft to bring out the miners, The Province reports.
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