Chile miners feted at presidential palace

The 33 miners rescued after 69 days trapped underground in Chile have been feted by President Sebastian Pinera during a palace reception in Santiago.Each miner was given a medal to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Chile’s independence from Spain, which was celebrated while they were trapped.The 33 also played a football match against their rescuers and government officials.The government team won 3-2. The miners, whose team was called Hope, took an early lead with the former professional footballer, Franklin Lobos, scoring the opening goal.But the government team, which included President Sebastian Pinera, soon caught up.After the match, President Pinera said he and the miners’ captain had made a bet.”The winners will return to the presidential palace, and the losers will go back down the mine! That was the deal I made with Franklin Lobos. Then we’ll rescue them again,” he joked.The teams were made up of 16 players each in order to give all the miners a chance to play and also to allow for frequent changes, as some of them lacked fitness.The total number of men on the field, including the referee, was 33, mirroring the number of men who were trapped in the 5 August rockfall.

The miners have become celebrities not just in Chile, but around the world, since being rescued nearly two weeks ago.Books about their ordeal are being written, while there has been talk of Hollywood films of their story. Some of the men have been to Spain to appear on a TV chat show. People have been queuing up in Santiago and at the World Expo in Shanghai to have their photographs taken next to the Phoenix escape capsules that were built to bring the men to the surface after more than two months underground.

And the message that announced that the trapped men were alive and well has been copyrighted on behalf of the miner who wrote it, Jose Ojeda.Chilean writer Pablo Huneeus registered the phrase in Mr Ojeda’s name. It was discovered attached to a probe 17 days after the mine collapse.Mr Pinera showed off the note during his visit to Europe last week and in the UK gave copies of it to the Queen and prime minister – Bcc