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Chilean President: Rescue of Miners is 'Very Close'

People look at a capsule that will be used to rescue trapped miners from the collapsed San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile, 25 Sept. 2010

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera says emergency workers are "very close" to rescuing 33 miners trapped underground since August.

Mr. Pinera says he hopes the men can be brought to the surface before he leaves on a trip for Europe at the end of next week.

Officials have revised original estimates that the men, trapped since August 5, would not be rescued until December. Last week, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said authorities could start the rescue by the second half of this month. Officials say the drill making an escape shaft is within days of reaching the men.

Once the shaft is completed and has been fitted with the proper equipment, the men are to be brought up one at a time in a metal capsule. Authorities say the miners are getting media training classes via videolink, to prepare them for massive media attention when they emerge.

The miners, who are 700 meters underground, made contact with emergency workers on August 22 and have since been receiving food, medicine, videos and letters through small supply shafts.

Mr. Pinera is expected to visit London, Berlin, and Paris. He says his administration is trying to work out the trip schedule so he can be in Chile for the rescue.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.