Latin America & Caribbean

Trapped Chile miners join bicentenary festivities

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Media captionThe miners sung the national anthem and chanted: Long live Chile, long live the Chilean miners".

The 33 Chilean miners trapped for more than a month underground have joined their compatriots across Chile in singing the national anthem to mark the 200th anniversary of independence.

President Sebastian Pinera sang the anthem with key officials and ex-presidents at the same time in the Plaza de Armas in the capital Santiago.

Family members at the San Jose mine hoisted a flag signed by the miners.

A drill hole has reached the men, who could be freed in early November.

They were trapped when the main access tunnel to the San Jose copper and gold mine near Copiapo collapsed on 5 August.

There were emotional scenes at the pithead as the family members raised the signed flag, on the 46th day of the miners' confinement. Relatives set up Camp Hope at the pithead when the men were found alive, 12 days after the collapse.

President Pinera is expected to visit the mine on Sunday.

The national hymn was sung at midday on Saturday in plazas across the country.

Mr Pinera was joined in Santiago by ex-presidents Michelle Bachelet and Ricardo Lagos, among others.

Viva Chile!

On Friday it was announced that a 30cm (12in) bore hole had reached the miners.

But it will take weeks for the 630m (2,060ft) deep hole to be redrilled to sufficient width to allow the miners to be pulled out.

Video footage made by the miners and released by the government on Friday showed scenes of jubilation as the drill broke through, showering the chamber with water and rock.

The miners hugged each other, shouting "Viva Chile!" and posed for the camera with broad smiles.

The 32 Chileans and one Bolivian have survived longer than any other group trapped underground.

Three bore holes have already reached the men to supply them with food, water and medicine.

There are three separate rescue drilling attempts under way.