Situation for Chilean miners improves

Gideon Long Sep 2, 2010
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Situation for Chilean miners improves

Gideon Long Sep 2, 2010
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The drilling operation to rescue 33 miners trapped underground in Chile was suspended temporarily after a fault was detected in the rock, but it has sine restarted. And we also learned the owner of the mine is in trouble and close to bankruptcy. The BBC’s Gideon Long is with us live from Capiapo, Chile, near where the miners are trapped. Hello to you.

GIDEON LONG: Hello there.

CHIOTAKIS: What happens to these miners are the rescue if the company goes bankrupt?

LONG: Well the immediate implications — the bankruptcy would be on the wages of the miners, not so much on those miners who are trapped underground because their salaries will be covered by insurance. But by the 300 or so miners who also work at this mine who have not been able to go to work since the rock collapse of August the 5th. For the last month now, they’ve been turning up at the mine, they’ve been clocking on, and they say that the company has paid them for the month of August. However, there are rumors that the company is running out of money and that it won’t be able to pay them going forward. So you have 300 miners here who are usually employed by this mine that have been out of work effectively for the last month. And they will be out of work for at least 3-4 months longer while the rescue operation continues. They’re concerned that their salaries will not be met. The company has said that it’s talking to creditors to try and resolve its financial difficulties.

CHIOTAKIS: And Gideon, speaking of the rescue, what improvements have been made to the men’s situation?

LONG: Well their situation has improved dramatically, really, since they were discovered alive 10 days ago now. Food and water is being piped down to them through this boar hole through 700 meters of solid rock. They had their first hot meal yesterday. We’re told it was rice, meatballs and chicken. So their strength is building. They’ve been able to wash. We saw video images of them yesterday, which showed many of them have been able to shave off these heavy beards that they’ve accumulated over the last three weeks down in the mine. They seem in good spirits. Psychologists are working with them from above ground to make sure they remain in good spirits over the weeks and months ahead. So the situation is improving day in and day out.

CHIOTAKIS: We’re going to have to wrap it up there, Gideon. Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate your time. Gideon Long from the BBC in Chile.

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