30 Aug 2010

Trapped miners able to speak to loved ones by phone

1:44 pm on 30 August 2010

Trapped miners in Chile have had their first direct telephone contact with relatives on the surface.

They are in an emergency chamber 700 metres underground and have been there since 5 August. It was not even known that they were alive until 22 August.

Families queued to use a special telephone cabin and were given one minute each to talk to the trapped men.

Until now, only handwritten notes have been passed through bore holes.

The BBC reports psychologists advised the relatives to remain calm and not to sound too emotional during their conversations.

It could be four months before the 33 men can be rescued.

Many family members are camped at the surface of the mine, which was reopened in 2008 after being closed because of an accident.