London, Sep.2 (ANI): The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the executive branch agency of the United States Government, which is responsible for the nation's civilian space, has reportedly turned down requests for alcohol and cigarettes made by 33 trapped Chilean miners.
According to The Telegraph, a NASA doctor has, however, agreed to provide them with nicotine patches to get them through their ordeal.According to one report, some of the miners were dependant on alcohol before becoming trapped and were experiencing withdrawal symptoms after nearly four weeks of being cut off from the outside world.
But James Michael Duncan, NASA's deputy chief doctor, who has flown with a team of space agency medical experts to Chile, said: "From the alcohol standpoint, we need to first get their nutrition up before we make any considerations there."
Instead of wine, the miners, who have lost about 22lb each in body weight, will have to make do with high protein, high-calorie foods delivered to them in narrow plastic tubes.
Cigarettes were deemed to be bad for their health in such an enclosed space, but they have been given both patches and nicotine gum to help them counter withdrawal symptoms.
Dr Duncan 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."
Jaime Manalich, Chile's Health Minister, who had earlier been quoted as saying some of the men were big drinkers, denied any of them were alcoholics or were addicted to any other substance.
Javier Diaz, head of a medical team treating the miners, added: "Miners do not drink more or less alcohol than the average Chilean."
He said vitamins being sent to the miners were to counter constipation, not withdrawal symptoms.
Meanwhile, the Chilean government has released a new video of the miners showing them smiling, shaved, wearing red T-shirts and listening to music. It was a stark contrast to a previous video showing them haggard, mud-caked and bare chested.
The miners have been stuck 2,300ft (700 metres) down the San Jose mine in the Atacama Desert since August 5.
The authorities have started vaccinating the trapped men against tetanus, diphtheria, flu and pneumonia to prevent outbreaks of disease. The men have moved to a drier spot almost 1,000ft deeper inside the mine because some were developing fungal infections and body sores.
They have located four sources of water, two of which have been deemed fit for human consumption.
The operation to rescue them is code-named "Operation San Lorenzo" after a martyred Christian saint.
If drilling goes as planned they will then face the ordeal of squeezing into a tubular, metal cage for three hours as they are slowly pulled up one at a time.
Dr Duncan praised the miners' courage and said it was important to get them on a regular sleep pattern and keep them optimistic. (ANI)