Miners gather for emotional return

Some of the rescued miners returned to the mine for a religious service at the place where they spent 69 days trapped underground yesterday.

The miners, their families and friends attended a ceremony led by Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy at the mouth of the San Jose gold and copper mine from which they were hoisted to freedom on Wednesday in a flawless rescue operation watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world.



The private service was held in the area known as "Camp Hope," the tent city where family members gathered to pray and await news about their husbands, sons and fathers trapped for 69 days at 2,050 feet underground.



"It was inspiring," 52-year-old Juan Illanes, described by many as the group's spokesman, said after the ceremony as miners' relatives dismantled the tents that became their homes during the ordeal.



"Seeing this camp I feel I've had incredible support," he added. "It gives you strength."



As the miners sang hymns inside a cordoned-off tent, some of their co-workers who were not caught in the cave-in protested, blowing horns and holding up banners to demand that the mine's owners compensate them for the jobs they have lost.



"We are not 33, we are 300," read one placard. "Trapped on the surface," said another.



After the ceremony, Mario Gomez, who at 63 is the oldest of the 33 men, helped his family pack up their tent and voiced support for his out-of-work colleagues.



"We always had faith that we were going to get out. Now it is time to rest," he said.



The service was closed to the press. During the ceremony, participants could be heard clapping loudly and singing Chile's national anthem.



So far, the miners have not revealed many of the details about what it was like after the cave-in left them huddled together in a dark, damp cavern. Some have said they are saving their stories for a book.



Gomez's daughter said he has not talked about the worst moments and the family has not pressed him to open up.



"I want to know everything," Romina Gomez, 20, told Reuters. "But we don't want to ask him."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Operations Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently recruiting for an Operati...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, Security Cleared

£100 - £110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Ham...

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Junior Developer- CSS, HMTL, Bootstrap

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz