Wednesday loomed as the target day to begin deploying the escape capsule for 33
Chilean copper miners who have been waiting more than two months 700 metres underground for their rescue, dpa reported.
Laurence Golborne made the announcement Saturday evening, near the San Jose mine in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The isolated site has become a hub of activity at a make-shift camp for engineers, family members and journalists.
"We are aiming for Wednesday," said Golborne, who has become the most popular minister in Chile for his push to rescue the 32 Chileans and one Bolivian trapped in the rocky depths after a mine shaft collapsed on August 5.
It will likely take two days to free the men one-by-one in a narrow cage specially built by the Chilean Navy to fit into the shaft. The punch-through to the 624-m-deep rescue chamber came earlier Saturday.
At the sound of the breakthrough, the men started singing the Chilean national him, engineer Jorge Camacho reported. One of them said they were "happy as children who were receiving candy" as the ceiling of the chamber fell in.
"The miners are doing well," Goldborne emphasized.
Health Minister Jaime Manalich however emphasized that ten of the men are much weaker than the others.