COPIAPO, Chile, Oct 16 (AFP) -Thirty-one of the 33 miners rescued in Chile were back home Friday after doctors gave them the all clear to pick up their lives again, as gruesome details of their underground suffering emerged.
Regional health director Paola Neumann said the two remaining miners, who were not named, had been transferred to clinics for more treatment, one for dental surgery, the other suffering from spells of dizziness.
The 28 miners released Friday were driven discreetly from the hospital in the northern mining town of Copiapo without stopping to speak to the horde of journalists camped outside hoping for interviews.
The miners face a surreal readjustment to their sudden fame as they head home and ponder tempting offers of holidays and cash.
The gritty mining town of Copiapo erupted into wild celebration as neighbors and relatives popped champagne corks and threw confetti to welcome back Juan Illanes, Edison Pena, and the sole Bolivian, Carlos Mamani.
Pena, giving AFP brief insights into his experience trapped in the bowels of the dark, dank San Jose mine said “the confinement was terrible”. “The first 17 days were a nightmare. Then everything changed. But the hardest thing was to be down there. Buried for two months.”
“We were waiting for death,” miner Richard Villarroel said as he was interviewed by Britain's Guardian newspaper, The Washington Post and local Chilean media. “We were wasting away. We were so skinny. I lost 26 pounds. I was afraid of not meeting my baby, who is on the way. That was what I was most waiting for.”