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Updated: September 21, 2010 14:12 IST

Oil rig drillers begin work to rescue Chilean miners

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The fastest of three drilling machines brought in to help rescue the 33 workers deep in a Chilean mine began boring into the Earth on Monday in its bid to reach the trapped men.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was present as the RIG—422, a drill usually used on oil platforms, sputtered to life above the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine, where a 30-cm-wide rescue hole reached the miners earlier this week but would need to be widened before anyone could be safely lifted out.

The T—130 drill, which completed its 2,070-foot shaft and broke through on Friday to the tunnel where the miners were holed up, was the second machine brought in to bore a rescue hole. The first drill, a slower Strata 950 hydraulic bore, has so far descended only 320 metres into the ground.

Each of those would be expanded to a planned 70 centimetres in diameter to accommodate the miners.

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