Chile Mine Collapse Anniversary Marked With Ecumenical Gathering

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  • Chile mine
    (Photo: AP Images / Hugo Infante, Chilean government)
    In this photo released by the Chilean government, miner Alex Vega draws attention to his shirt that reads "Thank you Lord" after being rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he had been trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010.
August 5, 2011|9:18 pm

An ecumenical mass has taken place Friday to mark one year since a mine collapsed in Chile, trapping 33 men more than 700m below ground.

The men spent 69 tense days in the San Jose mine following an explosion last August, with their plight and eventual rescue capturing the world’s attention.

Following the mass, the Phoenix II capsule that was used to bring the men to back above ground more than two months later will go on display in a museum dedicated to the rescue.

The commemorative events will culminate in a celebration on 13 October, the day the first miner was freed.

The ordeal catapulted the miners to worldwide fame and many of them have since traveled abroad to share their stories and even preach.

There will even be a Hollywood movie made about them by the producer of Oscar-winning film, Black Swan.

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Despite the jubilation they experienced at being freed, many of the men continue to suffer from the impact of their ordeal on their psychological and physical health.

According to the Telegraph, at least one is suffering from nightmares in which he is trapped or watches his friends die around him, while another has concerned his family by building a high wall around the house for no obvious reason.

Fourteen of the miners have applied for early retirement on grounds of ill health, and three have been diagnosed with silicosis, an incurable lung disease caused by breathing in crystalline silica dust present whilst in the mine.

Nonetheless, their story of endurance and faith below the ground continues to inspire many.

Jose Henriquez, known as the "pastor" of the group, has packed churches to capacity on tours to tell his story and give inspirational words of faith. He has told of how through prayer and group Bible studies each day the men were able to turn their despair into hope.

 

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