First rescue capsule arrives at Chilean mine
Associated Press Writer
SAN JOSE MINE, Chile – The first of three rescue capsules specially built to lift out 33 miners trapped since early August arrived at the mine Saturday.
Two back-up rescue devices constructed at Chile’s naval shipyard are expected to be delivered next week.
The man-size capsule will be used to pull the miners out one by one once one of the three rescue holes being drilled reach the men. The government says that should happen by early November or earlier if all goes well.
Mining Minister Laurence Golborne showed off the first capsule to relatives of the trapped miners Saturday.
Golborne and about a dozen family members tried out the capsule, a 924-pound (420-kilogram) tube made of steel mesh and sheets that is big enough to hold one person.
Carolina Lobos, the 25-year-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.
“It’s very exciting,” she added.
The capsule is nearly 10 feet (three meters) tall on the outside. Inside, the space is 6 1/4 feet (1.90 meter) high and about 21 inches (53 centimeters) across.
The bottom of the capsule holds three tanks of compressed air – 40 percent oxygen and 60 percent nitrogen, Health Minister Jaime Manalich said. He said that was enough for about 90 minutes of breathing, more than the 15 to 20 minutes that the journey to the surface is expected to take.
A microphone inside will allow each miner to stay in touch with those inside and outside the mine while being pulled up, Manalich said.
He added that 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.