Tags: chile | rescued | miners

Chile's Rescued Miners Tight-Lipped about Ordeal

Saturday, 16 Oct 2010 02:53 PM

 

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COPIAPO, Chile - Chile's 33 freed miners began their first weekend above ground since a rescue that gripped the world, but kept silent on many of the hellish details of their 69-day ordeal trapped deep in a mine.

"We are not going to talk about that," said 63-year-old Mario Gomez, the oldest of the workers stuck for more than two months in a northern Chilean copper and gold mine, when asked about the nightmare experience.

"That's reserved," was the answer to the same question from Ariel Ticona, 29, as he left the hospital where he and the rest of the rescued workers were cared for until most were discharged Friday.

The miners have became global media stars since their widely watched rescue Wednesday. Book and movie deals are expected, which could help account for their reluctance to reveal too much about the experience.

Rescued miner Victor Segovia took notes that could become a manuscript about the experience.

"We are going to publish a book," Ticona said. "We have an outline with 33 chapters based on the log that Victor kept. We are going to see about that later. Victor wrote every day."

In an interview with local newspaper La Tercera that ran with a photograph of his tattered red notebook, Segovia said: "Writing the book was what saved my life in the mine."

Parts of the notebook have been taped closed to ensure secrecy, for now. Segovia said he was so nervous at the moment of his rescue that he forgot the notebook down below and had to ask one of his companions to bring it up later.

The formerly-trapped workers have been showered with job offers and gifts, including free vacations to Jamaica, the Greek isles and Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion, as well as invitations to European soccer matches.

But they are not saying much so far about what it was really like after the Aug. 5 cave-in that left them huddled together in a humid cavern 2,050 feet underground.

Asked by reporters if there was a pact of silence among the 33 miners, one of them, Omar Reygadas, said: "We have a commitment and we have to live up to it. Obviously it is violated if things get out."

Reporters will have another try at extracting information from the men Sunday, when many of them plan to return to the mine for a ceremony marking their ordeal.

 

GRACELAND AWAITS

"They are beginning to dream about the mine. Some wake in the night to do their chores exactly at the hour that their shift began (while they were underground)," Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich said.

Ticona's third child, "Esperanza", or Hope, was born while he was trapped below. He and others released from the hospital were showered with confetti as they arrived home on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to jubilant cheers of family and friends.

Jamaica invited the miners, their spouses and the rescuers who brought them out of the mine to all-expenses paid vacations on the Caribbean island. Edison Pena, an Elvis fan and the 12th miner to reach the surface in Wednesday's rescue, received an invitation to visit Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

When the mine caved in, the men were believed to have died in yet another of Latin America's litany of mining accidents. Rescuers found them 2 1/2 weeks later with a bore hole the width of a grapefruit.

That tiny hole became an umbilical cord used to pass down hydration gels, water and food to keep them alive. One miner told Manalich that since the rescue he has awoken in the middle of the night to look for the cylinder that brought them food.

A bigger shaft was later bored to bring them up.

In a complex but flawless operation under Chile's Atacama desert, the miners were hauled out one by one in a metal capsule little wider than a man's shoulders and dubbed "Phoenix" after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes. (Additional reporting by Esteban Midel in Copiapo, Antonio de la Jara, Fabian Cambero, Brad Haynes and Simon Gardner in Santiago; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Paul Simao)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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