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33 Trapped Chilean Miners – Revisited

COPIAPO, Chile, Aug. 5 (UPI) — Most of the 33 Chilean miners who became celebrities after spending 69 days trapped in an underground mine are still trying to cope, a review indicates.

After captivating a world audience, guest appearances on television shows and sporting events, an exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington and even a line of action toys, most of the men have been unable to find a new line of work and have been forced to return to the mine in Copiapo, The Washington Post reported Thursday. They also are trying to cope with the mental and physical health issues resulting from the accident.

Some of the miners have been publicly criticized for speaking engagements as they sue the government that rescued them, alleging it allowed a dangerous mine to operate, the Post’s one-year follow-up indicated. While the miners don’t pick up the tab for trips, few of the men say they have made money off their appearances.

“There are people, for example, in a store who walk up and get angry at you. I didn’t choose to travel, I don’t have the money to travel,” Edison Pena said in a radio interview. “And if we had remained underground? And if there were only a big cross with our pictures on it? Would that be better?”

Shift foreman Luis Urzua joined the public-speaking circuit but most miners have financial problems and many remain traumatized, Jean Romagnoli, one of the lead doctors in the rescue operation, told the Post.

“They are taking uppers, downers, stabilizers,” Romagnoli said. “They don’t understand why they are taking them but they are fed up with pills. It is not pills they need, but the tools to deal with fame and the tools to renovate themselves.”

Last month, movie producer Michael Medavoy announced he bought the rights to their story and likely will begin filming in 2012. A contract the miners signed stipulates that they will share certain revenue, including proceeds from any authorized book or movie deal.

The men could receive settlements from either of the two lawsuits they filed. One suit is against the government, the second was filed against the mine owners.

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