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COPIAPO (Chile) - CHILE'S miners plunged into a weekend of neighbourhood barbecues and homecoming parties on Saturday but were hounded by their newfound fame as they tried to soak up the pleasures of normal life.
'This isn't right,' miner Victor Segovia said when he went home to find a crowd of camera-toting news crews waiting, according to an account in the newspaper Tercera. 'We are nobodies. We are only simple people who survived,' he was quoted as saying.
After being pronounced in good health, all but one of the 33 miners rescued this week after nearly 10 weeks deep underground in a collapsed gold and copper mine have gone home after brief hospital stays. The miner who has not gone home chose to get treatment for a problem with his teeth, Jorge Diaz, a doctor at the Copiapo hospital, told reporters.
A group of 28 miners was driven discreetly from the hospital in the northern mining town of Copiapo on Friday without stopping to speak to the horde of journalists camped outside hoping for interviews. 'What they are facing in the week to come is very difficult,' said Health Minister Jaime Manalich.
One of the miners, Jose Henriquez, who was credited with being the spiritual leader of the group, was drawn back to the mine on Saturday for a nostalgic visit, his brother told a local radio station. 'He wanted to be here to feel it up close, after all that's happened, all that we lived through, to be in peace,' said Gaston Henriquez.
The gritty mining town of Copiapo, meanwhile, erupted into wild celebration as neighbours and relatives popped champagne corks and threw confetti to welcome back the miners. For these tough men a new world of opportunity awaits and a chance to turn their fear and despair into profit, perhaps even riches beyond their wildest dreams, if book deals and Hollywood film rights come.
Miners struggle with new fame