The 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped underground for three weeks have been told that they may not be rescued until the end of the year.
The health minister, Jaime Mañalich, said the men – who had not previously been told how long the operation could take – had accepted the news calmly during talks with the Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera.
“During a conversation with his excellency the president of the republic, we were pretty much able to tell them and they’ve accepted that they’re not going to be rescued before Fiestas Patrias [Chile’s independence day celebrations on 18 September],” said Mañalich last night.
“[But] we hope to be with them – and their families hope to be with them – before Christmas.”
The minister added: “I think that we’ve been able to talk with them very frankly and they’ve accepted it and they’re calm and they want to work well with us.”
TRAPPED MINERS USE PHONE SYSTEM