[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Trapped Tasmanian miners get food
Rescuers outside the mine in Beaconsfield, Tasmania
The rescue operation is at a delicate stage, the mine's manager says
Two Australian miners who have been trapped 3,000 ft (1km) underground for six days in a Tasmanian gold mine have received supplies of food and water.

Rescuers were able to pass biscuits and drinks to the men through a narrow tube after drilling through mounds of fallen rock to try to reach them.

The rescue effort is expected to take another 48 hours.

Contact was made with Todd Russell, 35, and Brant Webb, 36, on Sunday, after rescuers heard them talking.

A small earthquake triggered a rock fall that trapped the men underground at the mine in the town of Beaconsfield.

Rescuers had been digging slowly towards the area but were beginning to lose hope of finding the men alive after the body of a third miner was found on Thursday.

But late on Sunday, they heard the men talking and managed to communicate with them.

"It's cold and cramped in here. Get us out," one of them told rescuers.

'Delicate operation'

"The rescue has reached a very delicate stage," mine manager Matthew Gill told reporters.

Map of Beaconsfield, Tasmania

"We have established permanent contact with the two men and they have received some food and fresh water and they do remain in good spirits."

The men had been surviving on water running off the rocks inside the mine.

Rescuers managed to pass through biscuits, water, energy drinks and vitamin pills through the four inch (10cm) tube.

Australian Workers' Union national secretary Bill Shorten told the AP news agency that the rescue operation would be a slow process.

"It's going to take a long time. You have to replenish them physically in order that they are able to cope with the next stage of the work," he said.

Prime Minister John Howard praised the resilience of the local community.

"All Australians will share the joy of the families of the two miners found alive at Beaconsfield," he said.

He offered his sympathy over the death of the third miner, Larry Knight. "Our thoughts are very much with his family," he said.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See where the two gold miners are trapped




PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific