16 Oct 2010

All but two rescued miners released from hospital

10:01 pm on 16 October 2010

All but two of the trapped miners rescued earlier this week in Chile have been released from hospital.

The men - who spent 69 days in their dank underground dungeon - left the hospital in secret to avoid the large number of journalists outside.

One of the miners, Omar Reygadas, says the men have signed a pact, agreeing not to speak about the nightmare experience until they can all speak at the same time.

He says they will set up a foundation into which any interview fees will be paid, and the proceeds will be shared among them.

Just two of the 33 whose rescue captivated millions around the world remain in hospital. The head of regional health, Paola Neumann, says one is suffering from a dental infection and the other has vertigo.

Dr Neumann says that, while the miners are in surprisingly good physical condition, many are in a fragile psychological state and need prolonged treatment.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich says they will all be closely monitored during the next six months. The government has promised to help them find new jobs, although their salaries are only due to be paid for another month.

After three months - what then?

One of the rescued men, Edison Pena, says he's worried about what the future has in store for him and his colleagues.

"I'm afraid in three months, when the interviews are over," he says, "it may be difficult for me and my colleagues to find a job. I may end up selling sweets in the town square."

Mr Pena has also expressed anger about the accident that trapped the men.

"Why do these things have to happen?" he asks. "Because the employer wants to make money."