Live from the San Jose Mine in Chile's Atacama Desert - as the rescue effort to bring 33 trapped copper miners to the surface continues apace, fears are growing over the future of 'Oscar' the miner's pet armadillo mascot who is also stuck in the subterranean chamber with the remaining men.
As the miners are winched up the narrow escape shaft in the Phoenix rescue capsule, enthusiastic armadillo watchers have been alarmed, as up until now there has been no sign of the plucky young armadillo.
"Where's Oscar?" one sobbing, clearly emotional young woman asked our reporter. "He's still down there isn't he? I thought they would have put him in the capsule with one of the men and brought him up to the top, but there's been nothing. We aren't even certain he's alive any more. This tension is killing me. Why won't anybody tell us anything?"
The group of three enthusiastic armadillo watchers cut lonely figures as they huddled in isolation around a camp fire, cooking beans and comforting one another, occasionally singing what they call 'The Oscar Song' in order to keep their spirits up, and taking short naps in rotation.
Our reporter tried to ascertain why no news was being relayed about the lonely armadillo, and one mine engineer who seemed to know quite a bit about armadillos told us:
"I don't know about the armadillo. Never heard of it before, but it seems unlikely that they'll put the armadillo into the rescue capsule until they've got all the men out. The truth is that armadillos, if they're healthy, shit a hell of a lot, and it really smells bad. They won't want the little bastard stinking up the escape shaft - that would make the ascent up that narrow shaft in that heat, damn near intolerable. That's if they haven't killed it and tossed it in a cooking pot already."
More as we get it.