After months-long nightmare, Chile miners say 'you first'

After months-long nightmare, Chile miners say 'you first'

"I would like to illustrate what they are going through today with a conversation we had yesterday," Health Minister Jaime Manalich told a press conference near the San Jose mine yesterday.

"I questioned them and mentioned we were working on an order in which they would be brought out. I said the order would be determined by technical factors.

"And what was their reaction? 'Mr. Minister, that's fine but I want to go last please.' And then another guy said, 'No, my friend, I said that I was going to be the last one up.' 'No, no, really -- I want to go last, please,' another guy started saying."

By being able to put aside their needs and wanting their colleagues to have a chance at freedom and fresh air first, "they have had a really commendable spirit, of solidarity and commitment to their friends," Manalich stressed.

As to their health condition, the minister said they were in "very good shape. The people at the bottom of the mine were healthy people the day of the accident."

In addition "they are mature people and very self-sufficient people, who have been able to face a test the likes of which probably no one has in human history," Manalich said.

The miners will begin a special liquid diet about 12 hours ahead of the rescue operation expected to start Wednesday.The aim is to reduce any nausea and vomiting during their removal from the depths of the mine, while still keeping up their caloric intake.

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