Trapped Chilean miners get supplies

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33 miners trapped underground in Chile since August 5th have begun receiving glucose, rehydration tablets and medicine. Capsules containing the supplies were sent down a tube, which is the miners' only lifeline. We get an update from The BBC's Gideon Long.

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is the World. This might give you an idea of what those 33 trapped Chilean miners now face. Only a few rescues of miners have taken more than two weeks. The Chilean miners have already been in the lower reaches of a gold and copper mine for almost three weeks. It will take at least two months to get them out. Psychological experts are debating how to keep the miners' spirits up during that time. So far, so good. The miners sounded pretty lively yesterday, singing Chile's national anthem. The BBC's Gideon Long is at the entrance to the mine in the hills near the city of Copiapo. He says the mood there is pretty emotional, too.

GIDEON LONG: Here at the mine entrance where I'm standing there are still dozens of relatives waiting for news, any more news, from their relatives down below. And there's a spirit still of elation, I think, an optimism after that good news that they had on Sunday when they finally heard that their loved ones were alive.

WERMAN: Now these men range in age from teenagers to 60-somethings. Are they mostly from Copiapo?

LONG: Not all of them. Most of them are from this area. This is the heart of the Chilean mining industry in the north of the country. But some of them have come from elsewhere. Just to give you one example, there's one man who's trapped in the ground who's from Talcahuano. That's a port city in the south of Chile which was devastated by the earthquake and the tsunami that we had here six months ago. And his is quite a story. He lost his livelihood in the earthquake, he came north and he found work in this mine. So in the space of just six months, he's experience a huge earthquake, one of the biggest earthquakes on record, and now he finds himself buried underground for the best part of three weeks.

WERMAN: And this man in particular, who does he have in Copiapo as family?

LONG: He has family here and actually just where I'm standing now there's a tent where some of his relatives are and they've put up banners, they've put up a little shrine in his honor. And also they have the other families around them, even the miners who aren't from this area. There's a tremendous sense of solidarity between the families of these 33 miners.

WERMAN: The men have been able to describe how they eked out the little food they had. Two spoons of tuna fish at regular intervals. It sounds like everything was very clearly delineated and organized down there. No chaos, everybody being quite civil.

LONG: It does indeed and it seems as though the oldest of the miners, who's 62 years old, and has got a tremendous amount of experience has emerged as the leader of this group if you like. If he's been marshalling the younger miners, he's been disciplining them and making sure that everything gets shared equally and everything is made to last as long as possible. But he seems to have emerged as the leader of this group.

WERMAN: And when they get that final borehole drilled to pull the men out of there, I mean the images that I've seen of it make it seem like its one of those claustrophobic MRI devices. That alone is going to be quite scary.

LONG: Absolutely. I mean it's not huge. Its 66 centimeters across [OVERLAPPING]

WERMAN: Yeah, that's just about two and a half feet or so.

LONG: That's right. So if you imagine, you're being dragged up through a hole that small. That could be quite a claustrophobic experience.

WERMAN: Now, one thing they have not been told is that it will take at least two months to get them out of there through this new rescue shaft. When are the rescuers actually going to break that news to them?

LONG: Well, this is obviously a very delicate issue and, as you say, the rescue team so far have not told them how long it's going to take. I think that's partly because the rescuers themselves don't have a very clear idea. And they also say that although they've not told the miners, they think that the miners probably have a very clear idea because they're experienced miners. So they did not tell them directly, they say that the miners have probably mentally prepared for a long haul.

WERMAN: The BBC's Gideon Long in Copiapo, Chile, where 33 miners are trapped half a mile underground. Thank you for the update, Gideon.

LONG: Thank you.