Meatballs and Rice, But No Booze or Cigarettes, For Chilean Miners

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A frame grab shows some of the 33 miners trapped underground in a copper and gold mine at Copiapo, about 725 km (450 miles) north of Santiago, September 1, 2010.

REUTERS/Chilean Government/Handout

They’re still trapped 2,300 feet below ground, but 33 Chilean miners got a nice, hot meal yesterday.

Authorities yesterday revealed that the nutritional situation of the miners, formerly surviving on a diet of glucose tablets and high protein milk, is beginning to stabilize. From today each miner will receive a daily intake of between 2,000 to 2,500 calories. Doctors have stressed the urgency in providing the men with high protein, high calorie foods, allowing them to regain the average 22 pounds each man lost during the initial 17 days of entrapment.

A main course of meatballs, chicken and rice, cheese sandwiches with kiwis and pears for dessert, were sent in capsules through a tube to the miners.The menu was compiled by a team of experts from US space agency NASA, who flew to Chile to advise on the miners’ well being during such a long period of isolation.

But they won’t be getting any cigarettes or alcohol. James Michael Duncan, NASA’s deputy chief doctor, said, “It’s an environment that’s pretty enclosed, and we don’t want to contribute to any of the problems within the atmosphere of the mine.”

Mr. Duncan insists that the focus should be on the miners’ calorie intakes, sleep schedules and their levels of optimism, and also strongly advises Chilean officials to be up front with the miners about the longevity of their rescue, an operation expected to last up to three or four months. (In the meantime, they get PSPs — though they might not even get money for the time spent underground.) (Via BBC)

-Claire McCormack