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Rescue cage sent to pull miners to safety

A special steel cage designed and made by the Chilean Navy to help rescue 33 men trapped for a record seven weeks underground arrived on Saturday at the San Jose mine.

Measuring 2.5m and weighing 250kg, the cage is the first of three that will be used to hoist the men up through a 600-700mm wide shaft.

An Austrian-made hoisting system of pulleys and cranes will bring the cage slowly up the rescue shaft.

Engineers said each trip will take from one to one-and-a-half hours, with the entire rescue lasting more than 24 hours.

Despite the long wait until rescuers can begin pulling the men, one by one, from their shelter 700m below, by early November at the soonest, the cage buoyed hopes in the makeshift campsite that sprung up after the August 5 cave-in.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich told reporters that before the miners come to the surface, at least two people will descend to their shelter: “a mine rescue expert and a highly trained paramedic.”

They will help each miner negotiate the long ride back up to the surface, he added.

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