Monday 30 August 2010 | Chile feed

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Chile miners give video tour of cave

The Chilean miners trapped underground three weeks ago have given a guided tour of their cave dwelling in a 45-minute video in which they point out where they pray, play dominoes and plan their escape.

 

Most of the 33 men trapped since the roof collapsed on August 5 feature in the grainy film, all shirtless and sporting scraggy beards but apparently in otherwise good health.

They wave at the camera, make victory signs and link arms to sing the national anthem before shouting: "Long live Chile.

"Long live the miners."

The video was shot by the miners after their rescuers on the surface sent a camera 2,300ft (700m) down through the narrow hole which broke into the underground chamber to find them still alive last Sunday.

It was shown in full on a big screen to emotional family members living at Camp Hope near the mouth of the mine before a five-minute clip was released for public viewing on national television.

The clip features a tour of the men's' living conditions given by one of the miners using a headtorch to light the way.

Along with first aid boxes and stretchers, creature comforts can be seen such as cards, a domino set on a crate and a picture of a topless woman on a wall.

A thermometer showed the temperature to be 29.5C (85.1F) – slightly less sweltering than rescuers had feared.

The guide showed where the miners pray daily and some mats in a corner to lie on. He also pointed out where there was a "little cup to brush our teeth".

"We have everything organised," he said.

Filming men playing dominoes, he added: "This is where we entertain ourselves, where we play cards. We plan, we have assemblies here every day so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33."

Another miner looked at the camera and told his family: "Be calm. We're going to get out of here. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts."

Mario Gomez, 63, the oldest of the trapped miners, told the camera: "This is for my wife, for my children and for my grandchildren." Another miner could be heard saying: "Get us out of here soon."

The men also joined in a round of applause for their rescuers. "We know what you've all been doing for us," one told the camera. "You haven't left us alone."

The men have now been told it could take until December to dig a shaft big enough to lift them out – work which is expected to begin this weekend – and medics say the biggest risk is how they will cope mentally until then.

But psychologists who have viewed the film say they display a trait which is key to keeping them motivated and optimistic – a sense that they have a role in their own destinies.

"There are a large number of professionals who are going to help in the rescue efforts from down here," one of the miners says.

According to Jorge Sanhueza, from the state mining firm Codelco which is leading the rescue effort, they have divided themselves into three working parties. One is responsible for the "doves" – the metal tubes which carry food, messages and medication down to the miners and they return with notes for their families and water and urine samples which are analysed by doctors on the surface.

Another has taken charge of security: ensuring there are no more rock falls, securing the 10m by 5m chamber they are living in and, eventually, the tunnel that will be dug to free them.

The third group is in charge of the group's health. It is led by Yonni Barrios, a miner who built up medical knowledge by caring for his diabetic mother. He will monitor the health of his colleagues and administer any injections or medication they might need.

Jorge Diaz, the doctor in charge of monitoring the miners' health, said they have also nominated three leaders: Yonni Barrios for medical issues, the foreman Luis Urzúa as an overall leader and Mr Gómez, the oldest miner, to lead prayers and give them spiritual guidance.

On Thursday, the group were sent their first proper meal – apple purée with nuts and bread.

Jaime Mañalich, the Health Minister, said four NASA space agency officials will arrive in Chile this weekend to advise on how best to care for people in confinement.

"It's clear that they were suffering from dehydration, that they've lost a lot of weight and so through the second borehole (drilled this week), we're increasing their water quota – we want to get them up to four litres a day per miner," he said.

 
 
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