Washington: Chile has sought US space
agency NASA`s help to provide nutritional and behavioral
health support to 33 miners trapped inside a gold and silver
mine since August 5.
A four-person team, including two physicians and a
psychologist, are planning to go to Chile next week, said
Michael Duncan, NASA`s lead on the Chile effort.
NASA has a long history in dealing with isolated
environments and thinks experiences in space and underground
are not too different, Duncan was quoted as saying by CNN.
He said NASA has been asked by Chile to help provide
nutritional and behavioral health support to the miners.
"It`s an opportunity to us to bring the space-flight
experience back down to the ground," said Duncan.
Meanwhile, the 33 miners trapped inside a mine have
been told for the first time that they could be stuck
underground for as long as four months.
Officials expect drilling on a rescue shaft, a process
that workers have said could take four months to complete, to
begin this weekend.
Even under the best-case scenario, the trapped miners
will be underground for quite some time -- posing a host of
practical and psychological problems.
The miners, trapped 2,300 feet below the surface, have
been trying to keep their spirits -- and the spirits of their
loved ones -- from flagging. They sent a video message to
their families on Thursday in which they expressed thanks for
the efforts under way to free them and displayed occasional
flashes of humour and patriotism.
Doctors have given the miners advice about how to
keep their limited living space clean: Portions of a 1-meter-
high, 40-meter-long shaft are being used as a latrine. It is
connected to the main cabin, which is being used for sleeping,
washing and praying.
The men`s sole lifeline to the outside world is a
tube approximately 8 centimeters in diameter, through which
food, water, clothing, video and radio equipment and whatever
else is needed are stuffed.
Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich said that, on
average, each man has lost 10 kilogrammes since they became
trapped three weeks ago, and dehydration remains a threat.