Entries in Chilean Miners (13)


Rescued Chilean Miners One Year Later: Where Are They Now?

Luis Urzua, the the Foreman and the last miner rescued in Chile on October 13, 2010. ABC News(COPIAPO, Chile) -- Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners who survived after being trapped for nearly 69 days nearly a half-mile underground.

So, where are they now?

The New York Times reports that many of the miners are unemployed and are poorer than before. Only a handful of the miners have steady jobs and only four returned to mining. Others have been making a living by selling fruits and vegetables.

“They made us feel like heroes,” one miner in a psychiatric clinic told The New York Times. “In the end, we are selling peanuts. It’s ironic, isn’t it?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Friday Marks First Anniversary of Chilean Mine Collapse

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Friday marks the one year anniversary of the Chilean mine collapse that left 33 men trapped underground for 69 days before a dramatic hours-long rescue that was broadcast live to television audiences around the world.

For more than two weeks the miners sat and waited 2,000 ft. below the earth's surface, enduring sweltering heat and cramped conditions, unsure whether the world knew they were alive. Rescuers eventually made contact with the men, but the group had to wait until October before crews were able to drill their way down to them.

Thirty-one of the miners have since filed a lawsuit against Chile's National Geology and Mining Service for the accident.

A special exhibit addressing the ground-breaking rescue effort is opening at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mining Owners at Fault for Chilean Mine Collapse, Report Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- A commission appointed by the lower house of Chile's Congress found that Alejandro Bohn and Marcelo Kemeny, who own the mining company San Esteban Primera, are at fault for the October 2010 mine collapse that left 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 72 days, according to The Telegraph.  The commission report stated that the mine owners failed to put "adequate safety measures in place, required by the authors." 

"There has clearly been negligence on the part of the company," said Deputy Felipe Harboe, a member of the commission.

Chile's mining regulator, Sernageomin, has also been declared at fault due to insufficient inspections in the mine.

The commission, however, found no fault with Chilean President Sebstian Pinera and other government officials, stating their relationship with the mining regulator and the mining ministry was "indirect."  In fact, Mr. Pinera's approval ratings improved significantly after the incident with eight out of 10 Chileans approving his management of the situation.

The families of 27 of the men have filed compensation claims against San Esteban Primera as well as Sernageomin.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chilean Miners Invited to Visit Walt Disney World

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BURBANK, Calif.) – The Walt Disney Company has given a well-deserved holiday gift to the Chilean miners and their families.

The workers, who spent almost 70 days trapped in a mine in Chile, have been invited to spend a week vacationing at Walt Disney World Resort next month.

The complementary stay will include visits to all four theme parks, meet and greets with Disney characters, gift cards and honorary roles in the Main Street, U.S.A. parade.

"The amazing story of these miners captured the attention of the world for demonstrating the true power and resilience of the human spirit," said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. "We are proud to welcome these courageous men and their families to the Walt Disney World Resort."

The miners and their immediate family members will arrive at the resort on Jan. 27.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


All 29 Miners Believed Dead After 2nd Blast Rocks New Zealand Mine

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATARAU, New Zealand) -- All 29 men trapped in a New Zealand coal mine are believed to be dead after a second explosion rocked the mine on Wednesday.

Speaking to New Zealand Media, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said officials said the blast "was an enormous explosion" and that they believe "there's no way anyone could have survived it."

The miners have been trapped at the Pike River mine in the country's western town of Atarau since the initial blast ripped through the mine on Friday.  Rescue efforts ensued, but high levels of toxic gas made it difficult for rescue teams to enter the mine.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key says, "Questions must now be asked and answered about how such a tragedy was able to occur and how we can prevent another happening in the future."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Chilean 'Super Mario' Speaks Out

Photo Courtesy - Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images(COPIAPO, Chile) -- When Chilean miner Mario Sepulveda rose to the surface after being trapped underground for 69 days, he couldn't contain himself.  He ran out of the capsule, yelling, cheering and hugging everyone in sight.  The world's press quickly dubbed the 40-year-old father of two, "Super Mario."

Only an hour after Mario was released from the hospital, he spoke to ABC News about the moment when the world caved in on the 33 men.

"I was wearing ear plugs and a hard hat, so I could barely hear," Sepulveda said.  "But I felt something odd and another miner started yelling, 'Mario, it's a cave-in…let's get out of here!'"

Sepulveda started looking desperately for a way out. He climbed a ladder up a ventilation shaft, but the ladder ran out, and rocks started showering down on him.

"I told the men, 'There's no escape.  We need to remain in this shelter.  God is here with us.  Whoever wants to save themselves, take His hand,'" he said.

During those first few days, Sepulveda said, the men were often screaming, fighting and crying.

"You have everything going through your mind: you fear, you cry and you suffer.  You wonder, 'Is anyone coming to save us - or not?'  But doubt always was a passing moment, because we had faith.  Everyday at noon, we would pray.  Everyday.  Down there, we were all…one religion," he said.

Reports have surfaced that the men worried about cannibalism.  Sepulveda said he never considered that, but hoped to die in his sleep.  He even prepared for it.

"One night, I gathered all my things, my seat belt, my hard hat, and I thought, 'When I die, I want to die as a miner,' and when they find me, dignified, the world will say, 'A miner died with his head held high,'" he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Rescued Chilean Miners Return to Pray at San Jose Mine

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COPIAPO, Chile) -- Less than a week after their rescue, a number of the 33 Chilean miners who for two months were trapped a half-mile below the earth’s surface, attended a religious mass Sunday at the San Jose mine.

Miners arrived to a flurry of journalists, many looking to snap video and pictures of the men and their families.

“Let them pass,” a police officer could be heard telling the media in Spanish. “They are not the Beatles.”

“Clearly it is difficult for some to return to the mine so soon after they just tasted freedom for the first time in 10 months,” said ABC’s Neal Karlinsky, who looked on as the men arrived.

As the rescued miners celebrated mass, a group of about 25 miners who also worked at the mine protested. Carrying signs that read "Somos 300, No 33" translation: "We are 300 not 33," these miners are upset that when the mine closes, unlike the rescued 33, they will not get financial assistance from the Chilean government.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Chilean President: Mine Will “Never Open Again” 

Photo Couirtesy - ABC News(COPIAPO, Chile) -- One day after the 33rd and final miner was rescued from that collapsed mine in Chile, the country’s president vowed that never again would Chileans be allow to work in such harsh underground conditions.

Speaking outside a hospital where the miners are being treated, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera promised a complete review of mine safety in his country, and vowed that the San Jose mine would “definitely never open again.”  The gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5 and the men were discovered alive 17 days later.

Joseph Main, Assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine, Safety and Health Administration, says it was the most successful rescue in mining history, and there are valuable lessons to be learned.  Secretary Main said people involved in mine rescue will study the Chilean operation, although with the hope that they will never have to employ its valuable lessons.

Doctors are surprised by the overall good condition of the rescued miners, some of whom have already been discharged from the hospital.  The BBC reports several miners are receiving treatment for eye and dental problems and two have been diagnosed with the lung disease silicosis, which is common to long-term work in mine conditions.

Jonathan Franklin, who was the only journalist who was allowed to speak with the miners while they were underground, says that fistfights broke out between the miners during the first two weeks they were trapped, before they were discovered by those on the surface.  Franklin says the scuffles were between miners who wanted to attempt to climb out and others who wanted to stay put and await rescue.

Chilean President Pinera vowed to punish anyone found guilty of wrongdoing in the mine collapse, saying, “Those who are responsible will have to assume their responsibility.”  The families of 27 of the 33 miners have already filed lawsuits against the mine’s owners.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Rescued Miners Showered with Gifts, Trips

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COPIAPO, Chile) -- Upon emerging from the underground vault where they were stuck for 69 days, the miners have been showered with gifts from around the world.

Employees of the Greek mining company Elmin are raising money to fund a trip for the Chilean miners to the Greek Islands, which will be quite a change for men who haven't seen sunshine for more than two months.

"Our miners who are underground for us support the [Chileans]," Elmin CEO Lyberis Polychronopoulos told ABC News.

The Chileans can have their choice of islands they'd like to visit, said Polychronopoulos, and the tab will be picked up by the miners' fundraising and the company.

In the U.S., electronic giant Apple has sent a new iPod touch, the portable media player, to each of the miners.

Elvis Presley Enterprises has extended an invitation to Edison Pena to come to Graceland, on them.  Pena is a Elvis fanatic who'd listened to music by "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" to pass the time.

"This was a terrible tragedy and we discreetly sent over a few items in mid-September once we learned Mr. Pena was an Elvis fan," said Kevin Kern, the director of public information at Elvis Presley Enterprises.  "Elvis was always generous with his fans and thankful, and part of our mission is to continue his good work and legacy.  It seemed fitting to help this fan in need by doing what we could to help him pass the time."

Kern said that DVDs, CDs, and even souvenir Elvis sunglasses were sent to Chile, and then down the mineshaft, to Pena.

"Now that this has ended happily, we thought it would be fitting to offer Mr. Pena and a family member a trip to Memphis to visit Graceland, where he will be treated like a rock star," said Kern.

Delta Airlines has offered to pay for Pena's flight, and his hotel room and meals will also be provided for him.

"We look forward to welcoming Edison to Memphis, the birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll and all things Elvis when he feels up to the trip," said Kern.  "Elvis fans are everywhere, and we all now know who is the biggest fan in Chile."

There are goodies for the non-music-loving miners, too.

Many of the 33 are big soccer fans and are likely delighted that famed British soccer player Sir Bobby Charlton, who comes from a family of miners, has invited all of the miners to attend a Manchester United soccer game at Old Trafford as soon as they have "medical clearance," according to a spokesman.

"A trip to the training ground to meet the players would definitely be in there, along with a game," said spokesman Philip Townsend.

Miner Franklin Lobos, the 27th miner to be rescued, was a professional soccer player before making his career underground, and was greeted Wednesday by a soccer ball from Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.  Lobos clutched the gift as he was wheeled into the medical facility for treatment.

Local reports say that a game will be organized later this month between the rescuers and the miners, with Lobos as the captain for the miners' team.

"This was the toughest match of my life," Lobos reportedly said when he came out of the rescue capsule.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Rescued Miner Says Experience Renewed His Faith in God 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For more than two months, 33 trapped Chilean miners gave the world a lesson in loyalty, camaraderie and teamwork.  For miner Ricardo Villaroel, the experience renewed his faith in God.  He was the 28th miner to be pulled to safety Wednesday.  He was in the first part of the area where the Aug 5. mine collapse occurred.

"I felt…I felt fear, I was working and it fell three meters [about 10 feet] from us and it blocked a machine and we were able to drive away," he said.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Villaroel recalled how he clung to life: "Water, but not pure water, mine had taste of machine oil but we had to drink it because there was no food."

Villaroel said the miners had to set up a system to ration food and water.

"We spoke about it at our first meeting we had when we were trapped," he said. "We all agreed that we would share all the food that there was but rationed and a little bit, we had to wait every 24 hours to eat a little piece of tuna."

He said his "insides were eating themselves away" and the men were deteriorating. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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