Rescue Operation Edges Closer for Trapped Miners

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Chile's President Pinera says the rescue of 33 trapped miners is closer than ever. Rescue workers are preparing to winch them out of a narrow rescue shaft in special capsules. Here's more.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said on Monday the rescue of the 33 miners trapped below the Atacama desert is 'closer than ever'.

The men were left marooned 700 meters (2,300 feet) deep in the small gold and copper mine by an August 5th cave-in, but their dramatic story may come to end as early as tomorrow.

The Chilean government has spared no expense in conducting one of the most complicated rescue efforts in history, and Pinera thanked those who have helped.

[Sebastian Pinera, Chilean President]:
"I want to thank all the countries that have helped us, the rescue workers, the relatives. The rescue will probably be Wednesday. But it's not important whether it will be Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday, it's important they be rescued alive having taken all the measures to ensure their security."

Rescue workers are preparing to winch the miners out of a narrow rescue shaft in special capsules. Pinera is heading for the mine to be with the families to take in the emotional release.

[Sebastian Pinera, Chilean President]:
"The rescue is closer than ever. I intend to meet tomorrow, Tuesday, with all the relatives and wait with them for the wonderful moment when we're able to rescue them from the bowels of the mountain. It's truly going to be a rebirth, not just for the 33 miners but also the spirit of unity, strength, faith and hope that the miner's have transmitted to our country and to the entire world. Thank you very much."

Pinera has ordered a revamp of mine safety regulations in the wake of the accident.

The government has brought in experts from the NASA space agency to help the men keep physically and mentally fit during the ordeal.

Their plight has gripped the world and drawn messages of support from Pope Benedict and the World Cup soccer stars.

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