SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Thirty-three Chilean miners
trapped deep underground for 17 days sent a message to the
surface Sunday, saying they were all still alive, but
experts said it would take months to dig them out.

Here is a timeline of the ordeal, one of the major mining
accidents in Chile's history.

Aug. 5 - A cave-in some 1,100 feet below the
surface leaves 33 miners trapped 2,300 feet
vertically underground in the small copper-and-gold mine of San
Jose, near the northern Chilean city of Copiapo.

The mine's owners, local private company Compania Minera
San Esteban Primera, notifies authorities several hours later,
saying they first had to evaluate the situation.

Aug. 6 - Mining Minister Laurence Golborne cuts short a
visit to Ecuador and flies back to Chile to lead the rescue
effort in Copiapo, 500 miles north of Santiago.

Mine authorities pin their hopes on the possibility that
the trapped miners have reached a shelter where oxygen, water
and food had been stored.

Aug. 7 - Rescue workers, who began descending toward the
shelter via a ventilation shaft on Aug. 6, are forced to
abandon that route when a fresh cave-in blocks the duct.

President Sebastian Pinera cuts short his visit to Colombia
and returns to Chile to be with the family members of the
trapped miners at a temporary camp set up outside the mine.

Aug. 8 - Rescue workers begin drilling bore-holes 5 inches
in diameter into the mine to try to locate the miners.

Aug. 11 - Pinera sacks the heads of national mining
regulator Sernageomin, and vows a major overhaul of the body,
which monitors mine safety.

Aug. 19 - The farthest-along drill reaches the level in the
mine where authorities presumed the miners to be, but does not
hit the shelter or encounter any signs of the miners.

Aug. 22 - Early in the day, a drill reaches a depth of
2,260 feet and rescue workers hear tapping on the
drill.

Early in the afternoon, Pinera presents to family members
and media a note that the miners had tied to the drill, saying
"The 33 of us in the shelter are well."

Hours later, rescue workers capture the first video images
of the miners, showing them to be in much better condition than
expected.

Golborne and Andre Sougarret, head of the rescue drilling
operation and mine manager at state-run copper giant Codelco's
El Teniente mine, have said rescue of the miners will take 3-4
months, given the instability of the mine and the time needed
to drill a new hole, 2.5 feet in diameter, to extract
the miners.
(Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; writing by Molly Rosbach;
editing by Mohammad Zargham)