Only 2 Chilean miners left in hospital
All but two of the 33 miners rescued from a Chilean mine this week have been discharged from hospital, a health official said Friday.
One of the two men who remained in a hospital in Copiapo required dental treatment and the other was suffering from vertigo, Dr. Paola Neumann told reporters.
The 33 miners had been brought to the hospital for monitoring and treatment after rescue crews successfully hoisted them out of the San Jose mine one by one.
Three of the miners were released from hospital Thursday.
Neumann said the others were discharged on Friday without informing the media.
"This is not necessarily because of the media. Please don't take it personally," Neumann said in Spanish.
"Basically, we've done this to protect them, to protect their families. And to protect those who have provided money to transport them back home."
Though the miners are in good physical condition, medical officials said their recovery is far from over.
A psychologist who treated the miners said the men need rest and support as they try and move forward after their harrowing ordeal, CBC's Connie Watson reported.
"The psychologist said they need at least 15 days just to get back on their feet and to start answering questions," Watson said.
Health Minister Jaimi Manalich also said that starting Monday, the men will go through a strict regimen of medical and psychological checkups every two days.
"That will probably last for six months," Watson said.
Close monitoring of health underground
The men, who were trapped in the gold and copper mine after a tunnel collapsed on Aug. 5, spent more than two months underground while officials orchestrated a complex rescue effort that began late Tuesday and ended successfully less than 24 hours later.
Medical staff were available 24 hours a day to monitor their health and diet while they were stuck more than 600 metres underground.
Dr. Jean Romagnoli, chief medical officer for the mine rescue, told CBC News that medical staff did everything they could to help the miners stay healthy while they languished underground.
"We acted fast — we were practically annoying for the miners because we kept asking if anyone had any type of pain or minor ailment," Romagnoli said.
"We had close control of everything that happened down in the mine."
Romagnoli said there was a psychological team on hand to coach the miners and give them advice, adding that the miners felt "supported from the surface."
Darinka Arce, a translator who worked at the mine site, became friends with some of the family members who camped out while officials planned the rescue operation
Arce, who lives in nearby Copiapo, said she developed a "special connection" with the family of Jimmy Sanchez, the youngest of the trapped miners.
Despite the trauma of the time underground and the stress of the rescue, Sanchez is doing well, Arce said.
"For everyone, it's going to be traumatic," Arce told CBC News. "But he's not going through a big problem."
Meanwhile, Arce said, all of the miners are trying to figure out how to deal with the onslaught of media attention from around the world.
"They do not want to be treated like superstars, you know?"
Miners keep story quiet
Many of the reporters who converged at the rescue site in the Atacama desert followed the miners to the hospital in Copiapo — but so far, none of the miners has spoken about their underground ordeal in great detail.
A daughter of Omar Reygadas, a 56-year-old electrician, said in an interview early Friday that he told her just hours earlier that the miners have agreed to divide all their earnings from interviews, media appearances, movies or books.
"He also said we can't say things to the media without their permission," said Ximena Alejandra Reygadas, 37. "He said they need to decide what we can tell the media."
Family members want to take the men up to the mine site on Sunday to hold a mass in their honour, Watson reported.
"We don't know if the men will agree to that, or if they really do want to do it, but they seem in such good shape mentally and physically that they just might pull this off on Sunday," Watson said.
With files from The Associated Press