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Trapped miners await rescue as operation ente -

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Broadcast: 02/05/2006

Trapped miners await rescue as operation enters critical stage


TONY JONES: The two Beaconsfield miners entombed in a steel cage nearly a kilometre underground
will have to wait another night before work can start on their tunnel to freedom. With Todd Russell
and Brant Webb said to be in good physical and mental condition and their exact location
pinpointed, rescuers now feel more comfortable taking a little extra time to ensure the operation
goes to plan. But while the men are bearing up well above ground, the people of Beaconsfield are
growing increasingly frustrated and angry with the massive media contingent which has descended on
their town. Susan Browning reports.

SUSAN BROWNING: Beaconsfield residents are growing tired of the media intrusion. As this woman
conducted her own quiet vigil by the gates of the mine, the media scrum grew until finally the
cameras got too close.

WOMAN: Come and pray. That's what they need, they need our prayers. They don't need our pictures,
they need our prayers.

SUSAN BROWNING: It's been a week in the spotlight which intensified tenfold when news broke on
Sunday that the miners were alive. It's the largest media pack in Tasmania in 10 years and no-one
is being spared in the quest for coverage.

YOUNG GIRL: Very sad, and they feel a bit happy because they're going to come out.

MIKE GRAY, MINE TOUR GUIDE: Probably the community would like to see you all go. But once again,
it's a fact of life, isn't it? It's a story and it's got to be covered, perhaps not so many.

SUSAN BROWNING: But with drilling for the rescue tunnel yet to begin, the media won't be leaving
town soon. Underground, 16 people are involved in the rescue, including a paramedic and a

DR ANDREW HUGHES, LAUNCESTON GENERAL HOSPITAL: They seemed to be dealing with it psychologically
very well.

SUSAN BROWNING: Medical experts are astounded by the men's wellbeing after a week in cramped

DR ANDREW HUGHES: One of the gentlemen had a leg trapped for a number of hours, but he's freed that
and doesn't seem to have any problems. That seems to be the extent of their injuries.

SUSAN BROWNING: Once freed, they'll spend at least two days in hospital for medical tests and

DR ANDREW HUGHES: There are a multitude of problems that can occur under these circumstances,
including renal failure and problems with thrombosis, dehydration.

SUSAN BROWNING: Todd Russell's volunteer fire brigade mates aren't surprised by the men's

FRIEND: I think if anyone's going to survive down there, he's got the right temperament to do it.

SUSAN BROWNING: The ability to get supplies and small luxuries to the miners through a plastic tube
has bought the rescuers more time.

MATTHEW GILL, MINE MANAGER: The condition of the guys in terms of their health and wellbeing has
bought us time to do it right without rushing. And it's for exactly that reason that I'm reluctant
to give an end point.

SUSAN BROWNING: A new drilling operation will begin sometime tomorrow, but mine authorities are
warning it'll be a slow and delicate procedure. It's likely to be much later in the week before the
men are brought to the surface. Susan Browning, Lateline.

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