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Chile Turns to US Space Agency for Help

Chilean officials organizing the rescue of 33 miners trapped 700 meters underground have asked the U.S space agency for help.

Rescue workers say they are concerned about maintaining the physical and mental health of the miners, who will likely have to wait for months before they can be rescued.

NASA has experience testing and training astronauts for extended periods of isolation. NASA officials say the agency is prepared to offer whatever support it can.

Rescuers in Chile are using two narrow drill holes to communicate with the miners and provide them with food and other supplies.

The miners became trapped nearly three weeks ago after a shaft collapsed in a gold and copper mine near the northern city of Copiapo. They have told officials they are fine.

Rescuers first made contact with the miners on Sunday.

Engineers are preparing to drill a 62 centimeter-wide rescue tunnel, but they say the work could take four months because of the depth and instability of the mine.

Officials say the miners appear to have organized themselves well and have rallied behind the group's leader, shift supervisor Luis Urzua.

The miners have been passing messages to loved ones, and have requested some items, including toothbrushes.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.