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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Rescuers inch to Tasmania miners
Rescuers at the Beaconsfield, Tasmania mine take a break on Thursday
A narrow PVC tube links the trapped miners to rescue teams
Two Australian miners trapped nearly one kilometre (half-mile) underground are "unlikely" to be freed until the weekend, the mine manager has said.

Rescuers had hoped to reach them on Friday but manager Matthew Gill said they did not want to rush the drilling operation to avoid causing more danger.

He said the men were in good health and good spirits, despite spending nearly 11 days caught behind metres of rock.

A small earthquake triggered falling rocks which killed a fellow miner.

Todd Russell, 35, and Brant Webb, 37, who are both married with children, were in a tiny steel cage which saved their lives. Miner Larry Knight died.

Egg sandwiches

A narrow PVC pipe connects the men to paramedics, and on Wednesday they received their first solid food through the pipe - egg sandwiches.

They received yoghurt on Thursday, and requested chicken sandwiches for dinner.

Map of Beaconsfield, Tasmania

They have been given iPods to help pass the time, and a light exercise programme to ward off health problems.

"There's a good spirit down there, we've got two guys who're in good health, we're trying to manage them, they're not agitated and we're just doing everything as safely as we can," said Mr Gill.

He said rescue teams had finished boring a narrow pilot hole through 16m (52ft) of hard rock, which would be used to guide the drilling of a wider escape tunnel.

He said the most difficult part would be breaking through to the men.

"We are treating this as a marathon with them, that's how we've explained it to them," said paramedic Matthew Eastman.

"And as with any marathon, there are peaks and troughs. We have some high times, we do have some low points but paramedics are at the pipe talking to them 24 hours a day if need be."



SEE ALSO:
Delays in Tasmanian mine rescue
03 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Race on to rescue Tasmania miners
01 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Trapped Tasmanian miners get food
01 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific



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