What happened to the 33 Chilean miners rescued in 2010?

·3-min read
What happened to the Chilean miners who were rescued in 2010?
What happened to the Chilean miners who were rescued in 2010?

This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series

It was a day many of them thought they would never see, but on 13 October 2010, 33 Chilean miners were finally rescued after spending 69 days trapped underground. 

The San José mine, about 500 miles (800km) north of Santiago, had collapsed on 5 August 2010, leaving people on the surface fearing that those underground were dead.

The men managed to send a note to the surface alerting authorities that they were alive, and weeks later in a race against time, they were brought to the surface one-by-one in a dramatic rescue broadcast live around the world.

But more than a decade on, where are the world-famous miners now? 

Chilean miner Florencio Avalos (C in beige suit) embracing with President Sebastian Piñera, seconds after coming out of the Fenix capsule after being brought to the surface on October 12, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. AFP PHOTO/ MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)
Chilean miner Florencio Avalos embraces President Sebastian Piñera seconds after being rescued from the Chilean mine on this day in 2010. (Getty)
Rescuers, miners and relatives gather at the entrance to the San Esteban gold and copper mine near the city of Copiapo, in the arid Atacama desert, 800 kilometers (480 miles) north of Santiago, on August 7, 2010. Dozens of rescue workers scrambled Friday to locate 34 miners trapped inside a copper and gold mine in northern Chile after a cave-in. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties from the accident.  AFP PHOTO/Martin Bernetti (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)
The rescue of the miners attracted global attention. (Getty)

Initially, the group found themselves stars on a global scale.

They received invitations to Disney World, to watch Manchester United, to Jerusalem and to the Greek Islands. 

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Many appeared on American chat shows while one, Edison Peña, who ran in the mine tunnels to keep fit and busy, ran the New York marathon.

Books were written about the group, know were known as 'Los 33' and a Hollywood film was made about the incident starring Antonio Banderas. One local business also reportedly gave them a Kawasaki motorcycle and £10,500 ($15,000) each.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13:  Twenty three of the freed Chilean miners pose at Old Trafford ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal on December 13, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Initially the miners were treated like royalty, including being invited to Manchester United's Old Trafford. (Getty)
Chilean miner Edison Pena (C) crosses the finish line of the New York City Marathon, November 7, 2010. At far right is Pena' wife Angelica Alvarez holding a Chilean flag.  REUTERS/Mike Segar   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ATHLETICS)
Chilean miner Edison Pena (C) crosses the finish line of the New York City Marathon, in November 2010. (Getty)
Rescued Chilean miner Edison Pena raises his arm in salute at the Empire State Building in New York, November 5, 2010. Pena plans to run the New York City Marathon on Sunday, less than a month after he was rescued from a collapsed mine that trapped him and 32 companions for 69 days. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton   (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER SPORT ATHLETICS SOCIETY)
Rescued Chilean miner Edison Pena raises his arm in salute at the Empire State Building in New York in November 2010, before he ran the New York marathon. (Getty)

But fast forward to 2021 and the picture isn't as pretty as it appeared in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic rescue. 

Some are now back working in mines, but many are still suffering the after-effects of their experience mentally and still struggle financially.

While some of the group receive a government pension, it is roughly half what they earned as miners, with one of the group, Jorge Galleguillo, topping his up with donations from tourists he guides around the site. 

Others apparently have struggled to find jobs in mining, with potential employers concerned about their mental health and about the spotlight they bring with them. 

Jorge Galleguillos, one of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days underground in a copper and gold mine, stands in front of the landscape of the San Jose mine, in Copiapo, Chile July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Vega
Jorge Galleguillos, one of the 33 Chilean miners, now leads tourists on visits around the San Jose site. (Reuters)
Laurence Golborne (R), Chile's Minister of Mining and Energy, and Mario Sepulveda, one of the 33 miners trapped underground at a mine some two months, talk as they attend the World Copper Conference opening ceremony at Santiago April 5, 2011. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Caballero (CHILE - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
Laurence Golborne (R), Chile's Minister of Mining and Energy, and Mario Sepulveda, one of the 33 miners who later admitted to suffering mental health issues in the years after the rescue. (Reuters)

Some have succumbed to alcoholism or drug addiction, while many still struggle with their mental health.

In one interview Mario Sepulveda, nicknamed 'Super Mario' for his positive attitude during the crisis, admitted he too has battled suicidal feelings.

"People saw the pictures of the rescue and they thought our hell was over," he said.

"In fact it was just beginning."

Watch: Coronavirus: Chilean miner tells nation to not give up

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