16 Sep 2010

Earlier prospect of rescue for miners

10:53 am on 16 September 2010

The engineer in charge of the rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile says he hopes the men could be freed earlier than first thought.

Mining experts initially said the rescue could take until Christmas, but engineer Rene Aguilar now says it could be complete in early November.

He says a drill used to dig a hole to haul the men to safety has reached a depth of more than 350 metres - halfway to where the miners are trapped.

Mr Aguilar says the work is progressing well, but a rescue is still weeks off.

The miners have been underground since they were trapped by a rockfall on 5 August.