Rescue workers are readying a man-size capsule in their final step to extract four miners trapped for nearly a month inside a collapsed gypsum mine in eastern China, officials said Saturday.
The red capsule, designed to accommodate a 6-foot-3-inch person, is equipped with a rolling door, a telephone system used to communicate with the ground and an escape in case of emergency, according to state-run CCTV, citing rescue authorities.
Once deployed, the capsule will lift the trapped miners one by one from 722 feet underground. A similar method was used in 2010 to rescue miners trapped in a Chilean mine for more than two months.
If things go smoothly, each lifting operation should take around five minutes, Chinese rescue authorities said.
In the catastrophe, one miner has died and 11 have been rescued since the mine collapsed on December 25 in Pingyi County in Shandong province.
Seventeen people are still believed to be trapped underground, but the 13 others are missing.
Rescuers will begin descending the capsule as soon as drilling work is completed and safety conditions are thoroughly checked.
State-run Xinhua news agency reported that a wide borehole used to deliver the capsule is close to completion. Rescue workers have been running simulations for days.
Several smaller holes have been drilled around the area where the miners are trapped. They have received food and other supplies, according to CCTV.