Rescued Chile miners face celebrity status

A day after

Rescued Chile miners  face celebrity status

Most of the miners were found to be in decent health despite being stuck in a collapsed mine tunnel since August 5.

The men were resting in a hospital after being hoisted to the surface in a rescue operation watched by hundreds of millions worldwide. One of the miners had pneumonia and was being treated with antibiotics. In a complicated but flawless operation under the South American nation’s far northern Atacama desert, the miners were hauled out one by one through 2,050 feet of rock in a metal capsule little wider than a man’s shoulders.

With much of the world transfixed by the rescue, celebrations erupted in Chile. The miners set a world record for survival underground and were welcomed as national heroes.It took less than 22 hours from the time the first miner was brought to the surface until the last one was pulled to freedom late on Wednesday. About two-and-a-half hours later, the last of six rescuers who had gone down the shaft to help the miners get out also emerged from the gold and copper mine, and the operation was complete.

“It’s so incredible that they all made it out alive,” said 51-year-old Luis Pina, a miner, hugging a perfect stranger as he celebrated in the main square in Copiapo where thousands of people danced into the early hours, cheering and waving red, white and blue Chilean flags.

Despite the suffering they went through, and the emotional stress some will still face, the previously unknown miners could now have plenty to look forward to if they take up the offers open to them.

Among a flood of invitations and gifts, Real Madrid and Manchester United have invited the miners — many of whom are avid soccer fans — to watch them play in Europe.
A flamboyant local singer-turned-businessman has given them $10,000 each, while Apple boss Steve Jobs has sent them all a latest iPod and a Greek firm has offered an islands tour. Most of the miners are unlikely to return to their old employment, with various job offers, advertising deals, and book and film contracts coming their way.

President Sebastian Pinera, whose popularity has risen over his handling of the crisis, was at the San Jose mine in the Atacama desert to greet each man as he emerged and plans to host them at his palace in the capital Santiago. “I hand the shift over to you and hope this never happens again,” the last miner out, Luis Urzua, 54, told Pinera.

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