Chilean officials on Monday began sending food and water down to 33 miners trapped deep underground for 18 days, said Mines Minister Laurence Golborne.

The Minister said overnight, workers had fortified the 8 cm-diameter shaft that will serve as a life-line between the surface and the miners, who took shelter some 700 metres down after the mine.

“We are going to re-establish contact with them and begin sending down, first thing, water with glucose and other minerals that will help keep them alive.”

Rescuers will use blue plastic tube to send down water, medicine and condensed food. Mr. Golborne said they were also working “to try other lines of communication”.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera stunned his nation and the world when he announced that a note sent through a bore hole at the San Jose gold and copper mine showed all 33 miners were alive.

“All 33 of us are well inside the shelter,” said the note, handwritten in bold red capital letters. Officials have warned, however, that it will take months to dig the men out.

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