Chile, 9th October 2010: Drilling equipment is being changed in preparation for the final push through solid rock expecting to break through the last 34 meters within the next 24 hours, but the actual rescue cannot begin until the shaft has been deemed safe from collapse which may take another 3-8 days.
Engineers have said the shaft is now just 34m (112ft) from the chamber, but the final part of the operation requires delicate handling as there is a danger that the trapped miners could sustain injuries as they break through the solid rock.
A camera will be lowered through the shaft to determine whether they will be able to winch the miners up through the exposed rock shaft or if they will have to wait for the shaft to be encased in steel which could add a further eight days to the rescue mission.
Huge cranes have been brought in to lower the casing into the shaft should it be required.
It is expected to take around an hour to bring each man up safely when they will each be given a pair of dark glasses as they emerge into the sunlight.
The relatives who have camped at the site since the men were trapped two months ago, are preparing to party in celebration of the rescue.
The miners became trapped 700 meters underground after the gold and copper mine near Copiapo north of the capital Santiago collapsed on August 5th this year.
Hundreds of journalists from around the world are expected to cover the event as the men are brought up.