WORLD: Extraction of miners could begin today

Extraction of miners could begin today

SAN JOSE MINE, Chile -- They'll come up one by one in green overalls bearing their names on their chests -- first the fittest, then the weakest, twisting in a steel cage that proved itself with four flawless test runs deep into the earth.

The dramatic endgame hastened Monday for the 33 Chilean miners who have braved two months underground, with rescuers reinforcing the escape shaft and the 13-foot-tall rescue chamber sliding, as planned, nearly all the way to the trapped men.

''It didn't even raise any dust,'' Mining Minister Laurence Goldborne said.

If all goes well, everything will be in place late Tuesday to begin pulling the men out, officials said. The lead psychologist for the rescue team recommended the extractions begin at dawn Wednesday, but no official decision had been made.

On Monday, the Phoenix I capsule -- the biggest of three built by Chilean navy engineers, named for the mythic bird that rose from ashes -- made its first test run after the top 180 feet of the shaft was encased in tubing, the rescue leader said.

8 police die in Mexico ambush

MEXICO CITY -- Eight police officers were killed in an ambush in northern Mexico Monday.

An official at the Sinaloa state attorney general's office said gunmen attacked four police cars on a highway in the town of Navolato. A ninth officer was wounded.

The official said the gunmen fled, although police found a vehicle several miles from the site that may have belonged to the attackers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of security reasons.

China blocks visit to Liu's wife

BEIJING -- China on Monday blocked European officials from meeting with the wife of the jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner, cut off her phone communication and canceled meetings with Norwegian officials -- acting on its fury over the award.

As China retaliated, U.N. human rights experts called on Beijing to free imprisoned democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo, who was permitted a brief, tearful meeting with his wife Sunday. Liu dedicated the award to the ''lost souls'' of the 1989 military crackdown on student demonstrators.

Liu, a 54-year-old literary critic, is in prison for inciting subversion.