With the process of drilling the escape route for the 33 men in the San Jose copper and gold mine way ahead of its schedule as of Friday, Sep 17, hopes of them coming out on to the surface sooner are soaring high.
The 12-inch-wide drill guided by a pilot hole half its diameter reached 2,070 feet (633 meters) beneath the surface, sending a shower of water and rock down into the chamber, said media reports.
A fresh video shot by the miners was released by the government on Friday, Sep 17. Following the bedlam after the drilling equipment reached through, the miners were seen hugging each other and posing for the camera with broad smiles.
The government had estimated earlier that the rescue operations would take at least until early Nov 2010 to be completed. However, with the latest breakthrough, the Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Friday, Sep 17 that now “we"re a little bit ahead", without providing a new estimate.