The 33 miners trapped in the San Jose mine in northern Chile had face-to-face contact with family and loved ones this weekend via real-time video conferencing, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports.
The miners were feared dead after a cave-in on August 5 left them stranded more than half a mile below the surface of the Earth, but incredibly, all 33 survived despite going 17 days with no food and only the water from the mining machines' radiators to drink. However, it could take months before the miners can be freed, as a plan to drill into the mine has been coming along more slowly than expected due to geographic faults in the rock.
Each miner enjoyed about one minute speaking with his loved ones, thanks to a fiber optic connection, cameras and a computer located in a small cabin where the miners' wives, children, parents and friends could go to have a moment of privacy.
The miners also received a symbolic video conference visit from four Uruguayans who survived an airplane crash in 1972 that left them stranded atop an Andean peak for 73 days. Perhaps nobody understands more about the emotional plight of the trapped miners than the Uruguayans, who offered words of support and encouragement.
"When all this is over and the years go by, and they are as old as we are, the problems they're going through here will look like nothing compared with the joy that is life," said Uruguayan Ramon Sabella.