- Associated Press - Friday, August 27, 2010

COPIAPO, Chile (AP) — The first video released of the 33 men trapped deep in a Chilean copper mine shows the men stripped to the waist and appearing slim but healthy, arm-in-arm, singing the national anthem and yelling “long live Chile, and long live the miners!” — images that bolstered family members’ spirits Friday.

Camping just outside the entrance to the mine, those waiting for the miners’ return said they were elated after seeing their loved ones — and that the men appeared to be in better shape than thought.

“It’s entirely the opposite of what I thought!” said Antonio Bugueno, whose brother Carlos is one of those trapped. “I thought he would look much worse. But he appeared strong of heart and mind.”

Only about five minutes of what is reportedly a 45-minute video were released late Thursday by Television Nacional de Chile via the Chilean government.


The men made the video with a small camera sent down to them through a small emergency shaft drilled to their emergency shelter deep in the San Jose mine.

The grainy, night-vision images show some men standing, others lying down and apparently just waking up. One man proudly displays the way they have organized the living room-sized shelter where they took refuge after a landslide trapped them. They also showed off areas outside the shelter where they can walk around.

The miners were trapped by an Aug. 5 collapse, and rescuers established contact with them 17 days later by drilling a 6-inch-wide hole to the shelter. Rescuers are working to drill an escape tunnel that will be about 26 inches wide and could take weeks or months to complete.

An animated miner gives a guided tour through the ample space where the men have plenty of room to stand and lie down. He shows where the men meet and pray daily and points out the “little cup to brush our teeth.”

“We have everything organized,” he says.

The few items they have are carefully laid out: a first-aid cabinet, shelves holding unidentified bottles, mats in a corner for rest.

As the camera shows a table with dominoes laid out, the tour guide says that “this is where we entertain ourselves, where we play cards.”

“We meet here every day,” he adds. “We plan, we have assemblies here everyday so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33.”

Mr. Bugueno said his brother was sitting at the table where men had laid out the dominoes.

“He didn’t say anything in the video, but that is his way, he is a man of few words. For that reason, I know he is basically his same old self,” Antonio Bugueno said of Carlos, 27, who has worked in the mine for more than a year. “He has always been camera shy, and I noticed that he turned away from the camera when it was pointed at him.”

The camera used to make the video was sent down through a bore-hole used for communications. Another small hole that snakes down to the men’s shelter is used for lowering food and a third provides ventilation.

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