Chilean miners trapped for 17 days alive

09:23, August 23, 2010      

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Chile was ecstatic Sunday as the first images of the 33 miners trapped for 17 days in a copper mine in the north of the country were transmitted on television.

The miners have been trapped after the San Jose gold and silver mine in northern Chile, 800 km north of Santiago, collapsed on Aug. 5.

On Sunday afternoon, a multimedia camera sent down into the San Jose mine was able to transmit the first images of the trapped miners. The television channels began to broadcast these first images.

This is the first contact with the miners, 32 Chileans and one Bolivian, since the cave-in.

The rescuers had not been able to make contact with them, which caused great concern among the authorities, as the shelter inside the mine only had water and food for some few days.

Media reported the news with different headlines. The digital daily "El Mostrador" entitled its report "Miracle: The 33 of us are alive," and described the joy all over the country after receiving the messages sent by the miners.

The daily "La Nacion" carried a headline which read "Confirmed: the 33 miners are alive," while "La Tercera" wrote "Miners give life signals: All 33 of us are fine in shelter."

President Sebastian Pinera said the rescue teams made contact with the miners through a message tied to a drill and retrieved the signal of one of the miners.

While reading a note written by the miners in red letters which said, "We are fine in the shelter, the 33 of us," Pinera disclosed that the miners were in a shelter located 700 meters underground.

"I want to tell you that Chile is crying with joy and excitement. The first is to thank the miners, their relatives, who even at the most difficult moments kept their hope, and to the team working for their rescue," Pinera said.

The rescue team drilled a second exploration shaft Sunday, which reached 688 meters deep, some 20 meters far from the trapped miners.

However, the government and experts have pointed out that the rescue of the miners could take three or four months due to the complexity of the operation.

Pinera said rescuers will send them water and glucose to stabilize their condition and then food, through plastic tubes called "doves" so they can continue to stay inside the mine.

According to experts, at 700 meters deep, the mine has a temperature above 35 degrees Celsius.

The main task now is to figure out how rescuers can keep the 33 miners alive and ensure their psychological stability, since they must wait at least three months to get to the surface.

Meanwhile, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said the aid for the miners "will be sent in some six hours."

The first message "was tied to a plastic bag, and it was miner Mario Gomez' letter. At that moment we celebrated, we did not know more, but later it was the message saying the 33 miners were alive," he added.

"When the mining minister said he (Mario Gomez) had sent me a note, I could not believe it. I know my 63-year-old husband is the most experienced miner who could lead his co-workers," Gomez' wife Lilia Ramirez said.

Gomez' daughter was also delighted at the news. "I'm happy, happy ... For the first time, I'll be able to sleep peacefully," she said.

Source: Xinhua

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:燕勐)

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