(Photo: AP Images / Dario Lopez-Mills)
The 33 trapped Chilean miners will be extracted as early as Wednesday, officials said.
Workers finished installing the steel tubing that will reinforce the path used to pull the miners up to the surface early Monday morning. The tubing was the last step in the long rescue plan.
The miners are reported to be in “very good” health and in good spirits despite being trapped 2,300 feet below the Earth’s surface since Aug. 5, said Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich.
“They continue to have an admirable attitude,” he remarked.
Manalich also noted that many of the miners volunteered to be extracted last, urging fellow miners to be rescued first.
Since the rescue capsule will rotate 350 degrees, ten to 12 times as it lifts the miners to the surface, the miners will be put on a liquid diet to minimize dizziness and nausea during the lifting process. It will take about 20 minutes for the rescue capsule, called the Phoenix, to extract each miner.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera commented Sunday that what began as a “possible tragedy, with the help of God, is ending as a true blessing.”
"The miners, their families, the rescue workers, the government and all the Chileans have shown unity, strength, of faith, of hope, that is recognized and admired by the whole world," said Pinera Sunday after officials announced the drill had reached the miners.
For more than 2 months, the miners were sent food, water, supplies, and allowed to watch movies through a small bore hole in the ground.
Included among the items sent to the miners were 33 MP3 players containing the entire New Testament and “The Story of Jesus,” the audio adaptation of the “Jesus Film.” Local pastors worked with The Jesus Film Project’s national ministry director to get the Christian materials to the miners in response to a request made by one of the miners through his wife.
“I cannot imagine how extremely difficult it would be to be trapped deep in a mine like these men,” said Berry Fiess, director of field information services, to The Christian Post in a statement Friday. “I am confident, however, that the words of the New Testament and The Story of Jesus will bring them hope, peace, and strength to face what lies ahead.”
All 33 miners are expected to be pulled to the surface by Friday. They will undergo health checkups on site and then be flown by helicopter to a hospital nearby.