Thirty-four miners were trapped Friday in a Chilean mine in San Jose de Copiapo, in the Atacama Desert, dpa reported according to Chilean authorities.
Rescue teams involving 130 people and led by police were busy trying to get to the men after the mine they were working in collapsed. They hoped to reach the missing men through ventilation ducts, said Chilean Labour Minister Camila Merino.
"The information we have is that there is oxygen and food," she said. "There is ventilation, and that is positive. There is enough space, and we hope these people are there."
If the miners have indeed found a safe place, they could hold on for up to another 72 hours, Merino added.
A group of psychologists was on hand to assist the families of the miners as they awaited a rescue.
The firm San Esteban, which operates the mine, has not yet delivered a report about what happened at the site.
Chilean Government Spokeswoman Ena von Baer did not explain a five-hour delay between the accident and the firm's call to the authorities to report the collapse of the mine. However, Von Baer made it clear that events would be subjected to an investigation.
Miners said there was a geological fault line at the site. Several of the men reported earlier accidents, including one that led to a leg amputation.
"The mine is being overexploited, which weakens the mountain's structure. That generates collapses," said Javier Castillo, a trade- union delegate at the firm.