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These are the hero Spanish miners digging to reach trapped Julen

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These are the hero Spanish miners digging to reach trapped Julen
One of the specialist miners from the rescue team. Photo: Brigada de Salvamento Minero
11:53 CET+01:00
All of Spain is watching the heroic efforts of a little-known specialist team of miners tasked with rescuing Julen from deep underground.

They belong to a century-old rescue team – the Brigada de Salvamento Minero de Hunosa, which was created in 1912 to serve as an emergency response team when accidents occurred in what was then Spain's thriving mining industry.

Now more than 100 years later and with 99 percent of the mines closed, this team of eight men represent the only hope of reaching Julen, the two-year-old trapped at the bottom of a borehole for 12 days.

These specialist miners are used to working in cramped and difficult conditions dozens of metres below the surface of the ground.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Spain's desperate mission to find two-year-old Julen

They have been tasked with digging, by hand a horizontal tunnel,- the final stage of the rescue operation to reach the toddler who is thought to be trapped around 80 meters below ground after falling down a narrow borehole, illegally created to prospect for water.

There are eight members of the team who will work in pairs, taking turns to be lowered down a shaft built alongside the borehole in a metal cage.

Once at the bottom, they will crawl on their hands and knees wearing breathing apparatus to dig out a four meter long chamber, shored up with wooden supports to prevent cave in.

Using pickaxes, shovels and mini explosive devices to loosen the hard stony earthy they hope to reach Julen some time on Friday afternoon.

Working in shifts lasting no longer than 40 minutes, the conditions are cramped and dangerous. But that is what these men are trained for.

Captained by Sergio Tuñón, this is the same team who in 2017 went to the rescue of a caver trapped in La Torca de Viscaya, a notorious network of underground rivers and caves in the Basque Country.

The other members of the team are Lázaro Alves Gutiérrez, Maudilio Suárez, José Antonio Huerta Lamuño, Adrián Villarroel Fernández, Jesús Alfonso Fernández Prado and Rubén García Ares.

The first team went down at 5.49pm on Thursday to begin a job that is expected to be completed within 24 hours.

READ ALSO: Artists illustrate the race against time to save Spanish toddler Julen

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