They are alive but it could take months before the 33 miners trapped deep underground in Chile are finally rescued.
After 17 days of expecting the worst, relatives and rescue workers were elated when the men managed to tie a message to a drill.
President Sebastian Pinera read from a note sent from the eldest of the miners to his wife: “Dear Lila, I am all-right, thank God. I hope to be out of here soon with patience and faith. I can feel the drilling machine again, hopefully it will make it through.”
One of the relatives waiting for news at the gold and copper mine in northern Chile said: “It’s such a great joy that they broke through and we will wait to see how much contact we have with them to be able to send food down. The most probable thing is that they will be able to. God is great and I’d like to send a hug to all the miners.”
Rescuers have lowered a camera through the bore hole.
But experts say the mine is unstable and workers will have to dig a new shaft to reach the miners, which could take up to four months.
They are seven kilometres inside the mine and about 700 metres vertically underground.
As celebrations broke out in the capital of Santiago, the president sacked top officials at Chile’s mining regulator and announced an overhaul of the agency.