Trapped Chile miners get Brad Pitt, censored news

They get laundry service, TV, three hot meals a day and even ice cream for dessert. Everyday life for the 33 miners trapped a half-mile underground now includes some of the comforts of home.

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2010, 23:09 PM IST

San Jose Mine: They get laundry
service, TV, three hot meals a day and even ice cream for
dessert. Everyday life for the 33 miners trapped a half-mile
underground now includes some of the comforts of home - at
least those that can be lowered through narrow holes.

The miners are sleeping on cots that were sent down
in pieces and reassembled. They can speak with their families
using a phone that also was taken apart and put back together
down below.

They have brief video chats with their families on
Friday and Saturdays, for a maximum of eight minutes each,
thanks to a fiber optic cable and compact video cameras with
built-in LED lights so the men be seen in colour by their
loved ones above.

Settling in for the long wait, they have
established a disciplined routine designed not only to keep
them mentally and physically fit, but working together.

The plan, according to the rescue effort`s lead
psychiatrist, Alberto Iturra Benavides, is to leave them with
"no possible alternative but to survive" until drillers finish
rescue holes, which the government estimates will be done by
early November.

"Surviving means discipline, and keeping to a
routine," Iturra said.

So when the miners do get moments to relax, they
can watch television - 13 hours a day, mostly news programs
and action movies or comedies, whatever is available that the
support team decides won`t be depressing. They`ve seen "Troy"
and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with Brad Pitt and
Jim Carrey`s "The Mask." But no intense dramas - "that would
be mental cruelty," said Iturra.

The news the miners see - which in Chile includes
frequent reports about the miners themselves - also is
reviewed first by the team above, said Luis Felipe Mujica, the
general manager of Micomo, the telecommunications subsidiary
of Chile`s state-owned Codelco mining company.

"Of course to do that you need to watch the news
first and effectively limit access to certain types of
information, or to put it vulgarly, censor it," said Mujica.

"This is a rescue operation, not a reality show."

Though some miners have requested them, sending
down personal music players with headphones and handheld video
games have been ruled out, because those tend to isolate
people from one another.

-PTI