Trapped miners put in phone contact with families

They barely had time to say "I love you", but after nearly four weeks apart, relatives of the 33 men who are trapped deep inside a Chilean mine have at last been given a chance to hear the sound of their loved ones' voices.

Families camped outside the collapsed mine in the Atacama Desert were each allowed to speak on the telephone with victims of the disaster late on Sunday. Since the connection on the long communication wire is precarious, conversations were limited to 30 seconds.

"There have been moments of great emotion," Ximena Matas, the governor of the Atacama region, said. "[They] listened with great interest and they both felt and realised that the men are well."

The conversations brought at least some reassurance that the men, who learnt last week that they could remain underground until Christmas, are in a sufficiently robust state of mind to survive for the next three months.

Recordings of some of the calls were made public, including one in which 44-year-old miner Esteban Rojas promised that he would marry Jessica Ganiez, his girlfriend of 25 years, upon his rescue from the collapsed tunnel.

A new video was also released showing the men talking about how they are doing better since receiving supplies of food and clothing down three small pipes which have been bored into the area where they are trapped, roughly half a mile below the surface.

They are topless, because of the stifling heat, and are wearing surgical trousers sent down to help to keep them dry and free from bacterial infections.

It could take up to four months to drill a 26in-wide hole from the surface to the chamber where the men are trapped.

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