Chile's freed miners accept trip to Holy Land

Catrina Stewart
Thursday 11 November 2010 01:00 GMT

The Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days have accepted Israel's offer of an all-expenses-paid trip to the Holy Land for Christmas – but only if they can take their 70 friends and relatives with them. Israel is inviting the 33 miners – whose dramatic rescue from a collapsed shaft half a mile underground last month captivated the world – for a week-long trip to visit the Christian holy sites.

But the Israeli-organised trip is likely to irk Palestinian officials, as important pilgrimage sites such as the Church of the Nativity, revered as the birthplace of Jesus, are located in Bethlehem, part of the occupied West Bank.

The miners reportedly submitted a lengthy wish list of people to accompany them at Israel's cost, with one miner asking to bring both his wife and his mistress.

According to Israeli media, the list included the miners' 31 partners, the mothers of the two single men, 33 children, a grandchild, a nephew and a stepdaughter.

Israel said that it is giving the request "serious consideration" and will respond in the next few days.

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