Some of the 33 miners who were trapped for more than two months 700 meters below ground in the Atacama desert returned to the site over the weekend to see the area that their loved ones called “Camp Hope.”
More than one billion people watched the successful rescue operation Wednesday Oct. 13 but some of the families had been at the San Jose mine since Aug. 5, shortly after they learnt the men had been trapped underground. They held vigils for their men, with many of them choosing to camp overnight throughout the ordeal.
By the time of the rescue, hundreds of tents had been pitched and a cafeteria and school had been installed around the mine. Chilean flags and goodwill messages dotted the landscape. Messages of hope were painted on the boulders around the camp.
The families shared the space with more than 1, 000 journalists, rescue workers, government officials, police and volunteers.
The last of the shelters and tents are being taken down as the families head back to their homes. However, at the request of the miners, some families had left their tents in place so the men could see how they lived and supported each other during the 70-days they waited for them to be rescued from the mine.
“We are happy that nothing happened. We wanted to see how the mine was because there are conflicted feelings,” Pablo Rojas, the 19th man to be rescued from the mine, was quoted saying in local newspaper La Tercera. “My family suffered a lot because they missed me and I came to say thank you to God because I am fine.”
Another of the miners, Víctor Segovia said: “More than pride is generated when I see the 33 flags flying on the hill. We wanted to know the place where they were waiting for us.”
All but one of the miners has been released from hospital. Victor Zamora is recovering after dental surgery.
This post is also available in Spanish