London, Sep.2 (ANI): The 33 trapped Chilean miners will have to move over 3,000 tons of rock to ensure a successful rescue, experts have said.
The digging operation - codenamed "Operation San Lorenzo" after the martyred Christian saint - has begun, but will take between three and four months to complete, Sky News reports.
Experts have voiced concerns about the hard work the men will have to undertake to help rescuers, particularly if they are already in a fragile mental state.
Chilean officials said rocks would begin to fall into the area where the men are trapped in about a month as the drilling nears them.
They will have to work in non-stop shifts to remove it with wheelbarrows and industrial sweepers.
"The thing that concerns me is the welfare of workers, their mental state. That will be real tough. From a health perspective, it's hot down there. They're talking about working 24/7 in 85 degrees for two months. Their mental state for that work will be critical," Alex Gryska, a mine rescue manager with the Canadian government, was quoted, as saying.
The trapped miners are aged between 19 and 63, and have already spent more time trapped than any other miners in modern memory.
A 31-ton drill has already been deployed to dig through solid rock down to the miners and replacement parts are being ordered in case the drill sustains any damage during the operation.
Once the tunnel is secure, bringing the men to the surface will be a time-consuming task. To extract all 33 men will take more than four days - as long as there are no problems. (ANI)