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Miners to hoist flag underground for Chilean bicentennial

Other News Materials 17 September 2010 03:46 (UTC +04:00)
The 33 trapped miners in northern Chile are set to mark the country's bicentennial - even 700 metres underground - by hoisting a flag Saturday and singing the national anthem, dpa reported.
Miners to hoist flag underground for Chilean bicentennial

The 33 trapped miners in northern Chile are set to mark the country's bicentennial - even 700 metres underground - by hoisting a flag Saturday and singing the national anthem, dpa reported.

The Chilean daily El Mercurio, in its online edition Thursday, cited Atacama Mayor Ximena Matas as saying that relatives of the miners plan to do the same simultaneously on the surface above at noon Saturday.

Matas said the workers' families would hoist a flag that has the signatures of those who are trapped underground: "so as to feel a lot closer."

The miners - 32 Chileans and one Bolivia - have been trapped since the shaft they were working in collapsed on August 5.

After 17 days of isolation, rescue teams on the surface reached the miners through 10 centimetre-diameter shafts drilled after the accident. Through those ducts, the workers get water, food, oxygen and messages, as well as telephone, power and television lines.

A larger shaft is being bored to pull the miners to the surface, but drilling is expected to take until at least October or November.

To mark the bicentennial, the miners are to be sent festive food complete with the traditional meat pies, called empanadas.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera is to visit the mine Sunday, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said.

"This deployment of human, technical and financial resources that is being carried out shows once again that human life is priceless and that, therefore, we have to make all humanly possible efforts to rescue them alive," El Mercurio quoted Golborne as saying.

Rescue teams are now within 400 metres of the trapped miners.

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