May 3rd, 2006, 02:50 AM
iPod relief for trapped miners
Two men trapped in a Tasmanian mine for more than a week are listening to iPods while rescuers prepare to start a new drilling operation in a bid to free them.
Drilling to free the pair, who are trapped in a cage beneath 12 metres of rock, is expected to begin at about 3.30pm.
The men, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, were trapped in Beaconsfield Gold Mine in northern Tasmania after a rock fall, which killed fellow miner Larry Knight, last Tuesday evening.
They were discovered alive on Sunday night and were finally given nutrition on Monday night when a small via a PVC pipe. Since then, they have had a regular supply of food, water, dry clothes and blankets.
Mine operators say drilling will take about 48 hours.
If all goes well with the final stages of the rescue operation, Mr Russell and Mr Webb are likely to be breathing fresh air — above ground — on Friday afternoon.
Age reporter Gary Tippet said from the scene that rescue crews were waiting for the drilling machine's concrete base to set before they could begin boring through to the men.
But Mr Russell and Mr Webb are still in good spirits, according to union representatives, after they received deodorant, toothpaste and other creature comforts last night.
The two miners had also been given music to keep them entertained while they wait.
Rescuers were in constant contact with the trapped men, mine manager Matthew Gill said in a statement released this morning.
"They remain in good health and have now received iPods so they can listen to their favourite music,'' he said.
It is believed that one of the men has asked for country music.
Mr Gill said overnight eight truck loads of concrete were sent down the mine to create an even pad for the Raise Borer which rescuers hope will drill through the rock imprisoning the two miners.
"That work was completed early this morning but the concrete needs time to cure,'' Mr Gill said.
"The Raise Borer will then be bolted through the pad into the rock beneath to ensure it has a stable platform. The positioning of the Raise Borer must be precise to ensure the bore hole comes out where intended,'' he said.
While hygiene appears to have been a problem for the men during the first days of their ordeal, water dripping down through the mine shaft and water sent down to the men by rescuers has allowed them to wash most waste away from the cramped cage where they have been confined.
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That's awesome. I hope they can get the miners out in good health.