TODAY

TODAY   |  August 27, 2010

Dramatic video shows Chilean miners’ refuge

TODAY’s Natalie Morales takes a look at new and surprisingly clear video, from more than half a mile below the earth’s surface, that shows the 33 trapped miners, shirtless and battling extreme heat.

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ANN CURRY, co-host: And now to some other breaking news this morning, that incredible new video from inside the mine in Chile where 33 workers could be stuck until Christmas . We've got TODAY national correspondent Natalie Morales joining us from here with details. Hey, Natalie , good morning.

NATALIE MORALES reporting: Good morning to you, Ann. Yeah, for the first time we're getting a remarkable look at the conditions that these miners could face for the next four months. And despite everything, they appear in incredibly good spirits. These are the new and surprisingly clear images from a dark and cut off world more than a half a mile below the earth's surface. Chanting in solidarity, the 33 trapped miners record messages for their loved ones on a camera sent down from above.

Unidentified Man #1:

MORALES: 'I am here, mother,' he says.

Unidentified Man #2:

MORALES: 'I am OK, my friends," says another. Battling extreme heat, trapped underground, the miners appear shirtless, but they still smile and wave with gusto. They give a tour of their tight corridors for the whole world to see. It's a rare glimpse at what life is like for the men trapped 22 days in a 600 square foot chamber. Some gather around this table to play dominoes, a welcome distraction from the waiting that may last until their expected Christmas rescue, still four months away. Up at the surface, loved ones gather at what is being called Camp Hope , where they've sent messages and snacks down this small tube just four inches in diameter. And that tube will act as a lifeline for the miners . Health officials say each miner has already lost an average of 20 pounds, but the 33 miners must stay fit to survive and one day climb through a 26-inch-wide shaft now being built for their rescue. In the meantime, it's messages like these that will give loved ones waiting above a burst of new hope, a hope that resonates down below as the miners sing Chile 's national anthem . Officials say the miners seemed calm when they were told that rescue may still be four months away. In the meantime, authorities are consulting with everyone from psychologists to NASA scientists on how to keep their spirits up. And we know that movies and a small entertainment center may be on its way underground soon. Ann , by the way, the temperature down there is reportedly about 84 degrees. So very, very tough conditions.

CURRY: That's right . And it's amazing, Natalie , that that tape was made actually after they'd heard that it would be some time before they were going to be taken out of there.