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Mon Oct 12, 2015, 07:25 AM

Five years on, it's still the pits for Chilean miners


Five years ago, the world watched as 33 Chilean miners emerged from the San Jose Mine after 69 days trapped underground. Jane Chambers reports from Chile on how they are faring today.

Five years on, it's still the pits for Chilean miners
Jane Chambers


Great expectations

When the miners finally came up to safety in the Phoenix Capsule many people, including the miners, thought they would be rich overnight and never have to work again. There were promises of work and they were given around $15,000 each by a wealthy Chilean business man.

In the first year they enjoyed all expenses paid trips to places like Disneyland, Manchester United and Greece. But since then life has been difficult. Initially only the 14 oldest miners were given a pension. Now they all have one, but they say it isn't enough to live on. The job offers and sponsorship money never materialized.

"It's been very hard for us to find work," said one of the younger miners, Carlos Barrios, who negotiated the pension with the government. "Out of the 33 of us, only around 10 have full-time jobs. Some of us are too old, and many of us don't have the skills to find work in other areas."

Health problems are another issue. "Two years after the accident I started to get panic attacks and was not able to sleep," Carlos told DW. "I find it hard to concentrate and remember things. I've been signed off work and have to see a psychologist every month in Santiago."

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