Trapped Chilean miners to help dig themselves out

The rescue effort will cause a hail of falling rocks and debris into their chamber.

The 33 miners trapped deep underground in Chile will be expected to work 12 hour days to help dig themselves out.

The rescue plan involves drilling a hole into a chamber astride the worker's refuse. This will them be enlarged, producing a hail of falling rocks and debris.

It is estimated that 500kg will cascade onto the gallery floor ever hours. The trapped workers are expected to use heavy machinery and shovels to keep the duct clear.

Dust is already a problem for their eyes and lungs. Officials are currently designing systems to try to keep the debris away from the main living, cooking, and sanitary facilities being developed for the workers.

Ingenious systems of giving them as normal a life as possible are being created, although the only means of contact with the surface is via a hole no wider than a toilet roll.

A video, taken with a camera dropped down the hole, appears to show the men in good spirits.

One of the miners explains their conditions: "We've organised everything really well down here. This is where we entertain ourselves, where we have meeting every day, where we make plans. This is where we pray."

They have been trapped 700 metres underground since 5 August. It was only discovered on Sunday that they are alive. It could take until Christmas to rescue them.