Miners approached about book, movie deals

SAN JOSE MINE, Chile Their 69-day survivor story has made them international stars, and that may allow them to never climb down into a mine again.

The miners were hoisted to safety ahead of schedule on Wednesday night, taking 22.5 hours to complete the rescue operation. Rescuers chanted, "Chile!" as each miner was hoisted to safety.

So many things could have gone wrong, and yet everything seemed to go right.

The men were below the surface since Aug. 5 in a space no bigger than a studio apartment. They said they prayed a lot and kept a regular routine.

The miners lived on meager rations and admit the ordeal was very difficult. The hardest part, they said, was the first few days when they realized how dire their situation was.

One miner's wife was expecting a child, and he feared the worst.

"I was scared about not getting to know my son. That's what I wanted the most." Ricardo Villarroel said. He also said he prayed every day and got closer to God during the ordeal.

Villarroel said the miners shared their problems with each other and did a lot of talking.

Miners in surprisingly good condition

All of the men are under medical observation, but they are said to be in surprisingly good condition. According to doctors, several of the miners are expected to be released on Thursday.

"Not a single miner has been in a state of shock," said Dr. Jorge Montes, deputy director of the Copiapo Regional Hospital. He said all should be able to leave soon once they go through a battery of medical and psychological exams.

All the miners are remain tense, he said, which is only natural given what they've been through, and what they face as they begin their new lives.

"They've all been placed under a high degree of stress, most have put up with it in a very notable way. Some have some kind of minor complications, but nothing to worry about."

Government officials said the miners' condition will be observed for the next six months to ensure they are adjusting to being back on the surface and back with their loved ones.

"Butterfly saved their lives"

While the trapped miners waited to be rescued, their families huddled in makeshift camps outside, many sharing stories to pass the time.

One man shared a letter his trapped brother had written him from the mine. In the letter, miner Jorge Galeguillos described how a white butterfly saved his life the day the mine collapsed.

In the letter, Galeguillos wrote that he and fellow miner Franklin Lobos were driving a truck inside the mine. They saw a white butterfly and slowed down to watch it. They believe that saved them from driving into the rockslides triggered by the first cave-in.

Galeguillos' brother said white butterflies flutter around purple flowers that blossom in the desert early in the morning, but they rarely fly down into mineshafts.

"People who are religious would call this a miracle. From a scientific perspective, the butterfly may have flown into the mine on air currents. You can draw your own conclusions, but that butterfly saved their lives," said Miguel Fortt, rescue coordinator.

Miners want new safety regulations

One thing the miners would like to see are new safety regulations to keep another mine accident like this from happening again.

President Sebastian Pinera said on Thursday that Chile must learn from the experience too, and vows fundamental changes in how businesses treat their workers.

Never again, he says, will Chile allow people to work in such inhumane conditions as the collapsed mine.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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