Drill Reaches Chilean Miners, Dangerous Phase Of Rescue Effort Begins

After 66 days, the drill has finally reached the 33 Chilean miners trapped half a mile underneath the ground. If all goes well, the miners will be lifted out in a few days.

This next phase of the rescue effort will actually be the most dangerous. Since the rescue shaft is only a little bit wider than 2 feet, miners may have to plant dynamite to widen the hole on their end. Additionally, the shaft will need to be lined with steel to prevent rocks and debris from collapsing the hole.

Once it gets properly lined, the miners will be lifted up one by one in a rescue capsule called the Phoenix. But as the rescue path isn't exactly straight (it had to wind around rocky walls), there is fear that some miners may get wedged.

Not to mention, there's still other logistics to figure out—like what order the miners will be lifted out in—but once everything is settled, the one-way trip to the surface is around 11-12 minutes. It still sounds scary but after 66 days of living underground, being rescued is a real proposition now. Hopefully, all 33 miners will be re-united with their loved ones soon enough. [NY Times]