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Rescued miners are suffering psychologically, says Chile's health minister

posted 15 Oct 2010, 12:36 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 15 Oct 2010, 12:38 ]

Chile's Health Minister says some of the newly-rescued miners are suffering psychologically following their 70-day ordeal.

COPIAPO, CHILE (OCTOBER 15, 2010) REUTERS TV - Chile's Health Minister said on Friday (October 15) that some of the newly-rescued miners were in a "delicate" psychological situation following their 70-day ordeal trapped deep in the belly of the mountain.

The Minister, Jaime Manalich, also took the occasion to give thanks to the medics who have worked behind the scenes while the miners were trapped.

"I want to briefly present, in the light of the day, the extraordinary people who during these long weeks have worked away silently and modesty to secure one of the essential aspects of this operation in San Lorenzo which, to be honest, at first seemed impossible to us: to keep the 33 miners healthy until the time of rescue," Manalich told reporters outside the hospital were many of the miners are recovering.

Manalich explained that although the miners' situation was much better than expected, the idea of them returning to normal life straight away was highly unlikely.

"At this time, there are various men who are in a delicate situation from an emotional point of view. Taking into account yesterday's high-level evaluation and today, we have a certain amount of unease because we are passing over to the families and the doctors people who are fragile. To think that in one more week these men will be back to a normal, calm life, I believe that the least likely scenario," said Manalich.

One miner is said to be suffering from pneumonia and others need dental treatment, but no serious physical problems have been reported.

"They are going to have a very hard time from the psychological point of view. They have to adapt to a new life, they have to fear the hardest time on the mine, therefore we are prepared to stay with them and to work at least in the next six month supporting them if they ask for this psychological point of view," said Manalich.

Manalich also tackled the difficult question of compensation for men, who suffered life in a hot, dark and confined space for almost two months, not knowing if they would ever get out.

"They have kept their salaries and the workers compensation pack (package) for all the time they have spent at the bottom of the mine and (it) is already arranged that they are going to keep their salaries for at least one extra month and obviously in those guys whose health conditions justify it they're going to keep this compensation for a longer period of time," said Manalich.

Three of the miners were discharged from the hospital on Thursday (October 15). Doctors have said many more would be released later on Friday (October 15).