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Chile miners could be rescued Tuesday -- with Florida Republican's help

October 11, 2010 |  4:26 pm

Chile Miners families embrace American driller Matt Staffel upon completion of the rescue shaft

Chile miners must be thanking the heavens for Florida Rep. Connie Mack right about now. Or soon anyway.

The men have been trapped nearly a half-mile underground for almost as long as the BP oil spill lasted, 68 days. With the successful test of a torpedo-like rescue capsule lowered down an escape shaft today, the miners could start being hauled to the surface as early as late Tuesday. And as The Times' Chris Kraul reports here, they may encounter some unexpected ailments.

The trapped men (now known as Los 33) are reportedly arguing -- about who should be the last one out. Hey, what can we say? Everything's backward in the Southern Hemisphere.

Also, the last one out might get a better movie or book contract. And some of the men may find it safer underground because -- well, there's no delicate way to put this -- during this long family vigil both of their female partners have met at the mine mouth. And probably exchanged stories.

Of course, the escape tunnel helped a little and the NASA-designed capsule. But no doubt much of the rescue credit will go to Mack, a Florida Republican who authored a House resolution last month expressing support for the 33 copper miners, their families and, indeed, the government of Chile.

The resolution commended the men's bravery, the families' courage and the government's rescue efforts.  And here we all are, so close to an actual rescue. Now, everyone knows the power of a resolution of the U.S. House of Representatives -- even one submitted by a Republican.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: AFP/Getty (Miners' families embrace American driller Matt Staffel upon completion of the rescue shaft.)

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