Chile miners lost hope before being found alive
Chile's 33 miners had given up hope of ever being rescued in the days before they were found alive deep under the Atacama desert, one of the miners told Spanish radio on Tuesday.
"Some even wrote farewell letters. We did not see the possibility of being rescued, we looked everywhere for an escape route, we burned tires, clothes with oil to try to draw attention," Franklin Lobos, 53, told Cadena Ser.
"There were moments when we thought we would not get out. But there was always faith in God, that with his help we could be rescued."
Lobo was the driver of a truck that takes miners to and from the mine.
He and his 32 co-workers were caught in a cave-in on August 5 and survived on dwindling rations of food and water for 17 days until rescue crews drilled a tiny hole into the chamber where they had taken refuge.
"I was the one who came closest to dying, I was descending when a rock fell, we kept going and some 20 metres (six metres) away everything crashed behind me. It was like the Twin Towers when they fell," said Lobo.
"After that the suffering was eating because we had no food. It was terrible. We had 15 tuna cans for 33 people and we ate a teaspoon of it every 24 hours, then every 48 hours and finally we were eating a teaspoon every 72 hours. It was horrible and I would not want to relive it."
Lobo, a former Chilean national team football player, said that even after rescue crews located them and drilled a tiny hole into the chamber where they had taken refuge, the miners never stopped fearing another cave-in.
"Food started to arrive and we felt more calm but never totally calm because we could still hear creaking sounds and we were not certain that we could get out. We always asked that people keep praying," he said.
Lobo and the rest of the miners were finally hoisted up to the surface one by one in a mini-capsule after nearly 70 days over 600 metres (2,000 feet) underground.
"I have been born again. It was a really hard experience, too hard, and it is going to take us a while to recover," he said.
© 2010 AFP