Rescuers Began Drilling Tunnel to Evacuate Miners In Chile

The drilling operation has begun in Chile to construct a rescue shaft it is hoped will free the 33 miners trapped 700 meters underground.

A huge Australian-made excavator began the work late on Monday night at the gold and copper mine, according to euronews.

The men are now the longest-trapped miners in recent history, having been stuck since August 5 when a landslide blocked the shaft into San Jose copper and gold mine in Atacama Desert in the north of the country.

Last year, three miners survived 25 days trapped in a flooded mine in southern China. The Chileans passed that mark on Tuesday.

While doubts and extreme challenges remain, experts said the rescuers have the tools to get the job done, although the government still says it will take three to four months to reach the miners.

The 31-ton drill made a shallow, preliminary hole in the solid rock it must bore through, the first step in the week-long digging of a "pilot hole" to guide the way for the rescue, The Press Association reports.

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