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New drill arrives in Chile with great fanfare

By Karl Penhaul, CNN
  • The Schramm T-130 is part of Plan B
  • Plan A is using a Strata 950 drill
  • Miners' families cheer new drill

Capiapo, Chile (CNN) -- A new drill in Chile that could speed the rescue of trapped miners arrived at the rescue scene on Friday with great jubilation from families of the workers.

The Schramm T-130 drill and components were transported to the scene drill by a five-vehicle convoy, a development cheered by miners' families who waved Chilean flags and chanted slogans in support of the rescue workers

"We are happy this new drill has arrived," said Cristina Nunez, wife of one of the trapped miners. "We think it will get our men out much quicker."

Thirty-three miners have been trapped 2,300 feet underground since a rockslide cut off their exit route on August 5.

This drill will be used, engineers say, for the so-called plan B, as a parallel attempt to a drill a rescue shaft down to the miners.

Owners of the new drill mining company, GeoTech, say in ideal circumstances they believe this drill could reach the miners in around two months.

The first plan, Plan A, in operation since Tuesday morning, could take between three or four months to reach the miners, the Chilean government said.

The Schramm T-130 is normally used for boring water holes. It is untried technology in a mine rescue.

Last week, rescue coordinator Andre Sougarret said initially the Schramm T-130, would be used to drill a 12-inch bore hole down to the miners to enable rescue workers to deliver larger survival items for the miners, but he said if possible the same drill would be used to widen the hole to 28 inches -- sufficient to hoist the miners back to the surface.

Plan A is using a Strata 950 drill placed directly above the shelter where the miners are holed up. Engineers say that is a distance of 701 meters.

The Plan B would drill at an 85 degree angle into an area of mine shaft that is used as a mechanical workshop. That distance, GeoTech engineers estimate, is 624 meters.

Additionally, GeoTech managers say the Schramm T-130 can drill faster than the Strata 950.

Rescue workers told CNN mid-morning Friday that the Plan A drill has cut 41 meters into the rock between early Tuesday morning and late Thursday night. They said progress was somewhat slower than they had initially hoped.

Earlier in the week, drilling had to be stopped due to geological faults in the drilling area. Initially, engineers had hoped the Plan A drill would cover about 20 meters a day.