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Last updated at 16:04 BST, Monday, 13 September 2010

NASA to help trapped Chilean miners

Summary

1 September 2010

Experts from the U.S. space agency NASA are due to arrive today at the copper mine in Chile, where 33 miners are still trapped underground. The experts will advise the Chilean government on how to support the miners until they are rescued.

Reporter:
Gideon Long

A miner's lamp and hat

33 miners are trapped underground

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Report

The NASA team -- a doctor, a nutritionist, an engineer and a psychologist - have a wealth of experience of space missions. They're used to helping astronauts cope with extreme conditions and months of solitude.

The miners they're here to help are gaining in strength. Later they're due to eat their first hot meal in 26 days. Until now, medics have been giving them high protein drinks and dietary supplements.

New video footage of the men was shown on Chilean state television on Tuesday. They seemed healthier and more cheerful than in previous videos.

The company that owns the mine has asked for forgiveness from the miners' relatives, many of whom have accused it of ignoring safety guidelines. The firm denies the accusations, but described the unfolding drama at the San Jose mine as "a terrible situation".

While the rescuers attempt to drill down to the men, there's also concern for their colleagues up above, who were fortunate enough to escape the rock collapse, but who haven't been able to work for nearly a month.

The company paid their wages until the end of August, but is rumoured to be on the verge of bankruptcy. The government says it's helping the miners to find new jobs.

Gideon Long, BBC News, Chile

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Vocabulary

nutritionist

person who advises on what food to eat to be healthy

a wealth of experience

a wide range of or significant experience

solitude

time spent alone

gaining in strength

getting stronger; building up

high protein drinks

drinks which contain lots of protein; protein is needed by the body and is found in meat, fish and eggs

dietary supplements

tablet or powder with extra vitamins and minerals taken in addition to what a person eats and drinks

accusations

claims something wrong or illegal has been done

unfolding drama

developing crisis or situation

fortunate

lucky

on the verge of bankruptcy

almost out of money to pay bills or debts

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