Rescued Chile miners not ready to visit mine site

Friday, October 15, 2010

COPIAPO - The 33 miners rescued from the San Jose copper mine in northern Chile are not ready to visit the site in the Atacama Desert where they were trapped for more than two months, the authorities said Friday.

Meanwhile, offers of jobs, free vacations, paid interviews and other inducements were flooding in for all 33 men.

There were plans to hold a mass Sunday atop the mine, at the location where rescuers drilled a new shaft to lift the men to freedom, but the miners will not attend.

The last of the miners reached the surface Wednesday under the glare of live television broadcasts that riveted worldwide attention.

“We have to take into account the fact that they are just now going home, that they want to have a moment of calm,” Atacama Governor Ximena Matas said Friday. “They simply don’t wish to return.”

She said some of the workers are not yet available to go back to the mine.

Although they emerged in relatively good health, the miners were all hospitalized for medical observation. Three were released Thursday and another 26 were expected to be discharged Friday.

Psychologist Alberto Iturra, who assisted the miners during their ordeal 700 metres under the Atacama Desert, supported the way the men are defending their privacy despite the many invitations and even huge financial offers for interviews.

“Leave them alone,” he said. “They need to be alone.”

Bolivian Carlos Mamani, who left hospital Thursday, said: “We want to lead a normal, regular life.” He has been offered a home and a permanent job in his native Bolivia.

One of the rescued miners, Franklin Lobos, is a former international football player for Chile and has got offers to coach football.

Others have been asked to take part in television programmes, and for all of them there are offers of free travel to destinations as far-flung as Madrid, Taiwan or the Dominican Republic.

The mine saga has already been turned into a film script.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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