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    Relief as trapped Chile miners alive


    by ODN


    Dozens of miners stuck deep underground in Chile are still alive, but experts warn it could be months before they are dug out.

    Thirty-three workers have been down the mine near the northern city of Copiapo for 17 days.

    An inspection probe was lowered inside and picked up an image of a miner. When the video camera was pulled out, it had a paper message tied to it.

    President Sebastian Pinera waved it around in front of waiting fellow workers and waiting families and read out the written message which said all the trapped miners were alive.

    In the capital of Santiago, around 200 people gathered at the main plaza, waving flags to celebrate the news. Drivers honked their horns and diners applauded in restaurants.

    "It will take months" to get them out, the beaming president said at the mine head. "It will take time, but it doesn't matter how long it takes to have a happy ending."

    The miners are 4.5 miles inside the winding mine and about 2,300 feet vertically underground. They are inside a mine shaft shelter the size of a small apartment.

    Authorities said they had limited amounts of food, and doctors advised sending down glucose, enriched mineral water and medicines as well as other foods. Health officials estimated the miners may have lost about 17.5 to 20 pounds each.

    Deep in the mine there are tanks of water and ventilation shafts that helped the miners to survive.

    They used the batteries of a truck down in the mine to charge their helmet lamps, some of which were shining in the television images.