October 20, 2010 / 5:30 AM / 9 years ago

Wedding bells for five of Chile's rescued miners

COPIAPO, Chile (Reuters) - Five of Chile’s 33 rescued miners are to have church weddings, in some cases more than 20 years after they first tied the knot, inspired by their survival after two-months trapped underground after a cave-in.

On bended knee, the miners proposed to their wives and girlfriends at a party in the seaside town of Caldera in far northern Chile late on Tuesday. It was the group’s first public reunion since their dramatic rescue last week after 69 days below ground.

“After these 10 years we’ve spent together, now it’s time for us to get married,” miner Claudio Yanez told his girlfriend, Cristina Nunez, during the gathering, which was held in a converted railway station.

During his ordeal underground, miner Esteban Rojas had vowed to marry his wife in church 25 years after their civil ceremony. He sent the proposal to the surface in a letter tucked into a plastic tube used to shuttle provisions to keep the men alive until they were rescued.

“I told my wife that if I got out of there alive, I’d get married in a church,” Rojas said.

“I accept. I’ve still got the letter to hold you to it,” joked his wife, Jessica Yanez.

The miners’ rescue one-by-one in an escape capsule hoisted through a narrow shaft 2,050 feet long and just wider than a man’s shoulders, captured the world’s imagination and has turned the men into celebrities, though some are still grappling with the psychological trauma of their ordeal.

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