Trapped Chilean Miners: Drill Finally Breaks Through To Mine - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Trapped Chilean Miners: Drill Finally Breaks Through To Mine

SAN JOSE MINE, Chile — A drilling rig punched through to the underground purgatory where 33 miners have been trapped for 66 agonizing days under the Chilean desert, raising cheers, tears and hopes on Saturday.

Champagne sprayed and hard hats tumbled off heads as rescue workers pressed close to the drill, hugging each other and shouting for joy. Down in "Camp Hope," where the miners' relatives waited, people waved flags and cried as one man energetically rang a brass bell even before the siren sounded confirming the escape shaft had reached the miners.

The men are still several days away from efforts to bring them to the surface: the rescue team wants to eliminate even a remote chance of something going wrong on their way up, and plans to carefully inspect the shaft with a video camera before deciding whether to reinforce it.

"We feel an enormous happiness, now that i'm going to have my brother," said Darwin Contreras, whose brother Pedro, a 26-year-old heavy machine operator, is stuck down below. "When the siren rang out, it was overwhelming. Now we just have to wait for them to get out, just a little bit longer now."

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