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Drilling to reach Chilean miners to begin
(CNN) - Chilean officials plan to start drilling a rescue shaft Monday, as they begin a months-long operation to reach 33 miners who have been trapped underground for more than three weeks.
The effort to drill through more than 2,300 feet (701 meters) of rock and safely extract the miners could take three to four months, officials said.
The miners have been stuck in the mine since an August 5 cave-in and are surviving off food, water and other supplies funneled to them from above ground through an "umbilical cord" - a tube about four inches in diameter.
Meanwhile, a four-person team from NASA is set to arrive in Chile this week to help provide physical and behavioral health support to the miners. NASA has a long history in dealing with isolated environments and thinks experiences in space and underground are not too different, said Michael Duncan, the U.S. space agency's lead person on the Chile effort.
Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich said a medical official, a nutritional medic, a psychologist and an engineering expert in logistics from NASA will stay at the mine from Wednesday through Friday to help.
"I do not imagine, like I saw a cartoon in a daily newspaper, that NASA will be setting up an area with no oxygen and no gravity where the miners will be floating about ... but you never know," Manalich joked.
The miners spoke directly with family members for the first time Sunday, as officials worked to keep the men's spirits and health in good shape. Read more
Stabbed cabbie out of work, worries about feeding family
(CNN) - New York cab driver Ahmed Sharif cannot bring himself to talk about the young man who allegedly cut his throat and nearly killed him last week, a taxi union representative said Sunday.
"Ahmed is a strong man, but mentally he has limits," said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. "The trauma he's experienced will last for a long time."
Desai spent time this weekend with Sharif. She said his most pressing worry is how he'll provide for his wife and four children - including a 10-month-old –without a job. Sharif is receiving 2/3 of his salary, about $30,000 a year, in workers' compensation. Union members do not get health insurance or disability payments, Desai said.
"My guess is that he'll be unable to work for at least four months," Desai said. "He can't even pick up his baby because of the wounds to his arms. He can't turn his neck."
There's been so little money raised over the past few days for Sharif that it would "barely cover baby formula," said Desai who, along with Sharif, held a widely publicized press conference Friday announcing the union was creating a fund for the family. The union's website indicates how to mail a donation or give online. Read More