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All But 2 Chilean Miners Back Home

Rescued miner Carlos Mamani, from Bolivia, is surrounded by the press as he arrives to his home in Copiapo, Chile, 14 Oct. 2010
Rescued miner Carlos Mamani, from Bolivia, is surrounded by the press as he arrives to his home in Copiapo, Chile, 14 Oct. 2010

Medical officials in Chile say all but two of the 33 rescued miners have been released from the hospital to return home to their families.

Officials say three of the miners were discharged from the hospital late Thursday and walked into a news media storm. They say the others were driven discreetly from the hospital Friday in the northern mining town of Copiapo without stopping to speak to the hordes of journalists waiting outside.

Medical officials say the remaining two miners require more attention and are being transferred to other hospitals.

Earlier Friday, the chief medical officer for the mine rescue, Dr. Jean Romagnoli, said overall the miners' health is very good.

Meanwhile, Chile's ambassador to the United States, Arturo Fermandois, told VOA Friday he plans to invite some of the miners to Washington in the near future. He also said Chile's government is planning to help with the education of the miners' children.

One of the miners released from the hospital Thursday, Edison Pena, was greeted by a cheering throng of neighbors when he arrived home. He told reporters he thought he would never return during his 69-day ordeal.

The miners spent much of Thursday relaxing at the hospital with President Sebastian Pinera and still wearing the dark sunglasses to protect their eyes from the lights, after their weeks in the dark mine.

They now are facing a barrage of requests for interviews, job offers, world tours, and film and book deals. Pena has been invited to attend the New York City Marathon after he detailed how he jogged in the mine's tunnels to alleviate the stress of his confinement.

The miners were trapped more than a half-kilometer underground after a mine collapse on August 5. They were not discovered alive until more than two weeks later. They survived underground longer than anyone on record.

In a drama watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world, rescuers lowered a specially built narrow cage down a shaft and pulled the miners to safety one by one.

President Pinera, who greeted each man as he emerged, led a spirited and emotional singing of the national anthem when the last miner arrived safely on the surface.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Click on the graphic:

Chile Miners Timeline