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Chile rescue capsule goes on display

8 years ago932 views



The capsule used to rescue the 33 trapped miners in Chile has gone on proud display in the capital Santiago.

Crowds gathered around "Fenix 2" as a Chilean legislative commission investigated reports that mining operators ignored danger warnings from one of the trapped men.

Deputy Carlos Vilches, a commission member, said Juan Illanes has alleged that operators refused his request to leave the mine three hours before it collapsed on August 5.

Illanes reportedly had heard loud sounds that indicated a collapse could be brewing.

Vilches spoke at the opening of a public exhibit of the capsule used in last week's rescue of the miners after more than two months underground.

The exhibit in the plaza outside Chile's presidential palace is drawing hundreds of people.

Vilches represents Copiapo, the community closest to the San Jose Mine where the collapse occurred. He said he would call Illanes and other miners to testify before the commission about conditions at the mine.

Another worker, Gino Cortez, lost his leg in a smaller collapse inside the San Jose Mine in July.

The mining company's owners and supervisors of the mining operation are under investigation in connection with the earlier accident. A spokesperson for the San Esteban mining company said the firm would have no comment pending possible legal proceedings.

Painted in the red, white and blue of the Chilean flag, the capsule showed only a few scratches from its multiple trips down and up a tight tunnel to extract the men and their rescuers.

At least two cities are vying to become the permanent home for that capsule.

One is Copiapo, the closest community to the mine. The other is Talcahuano, where officials feel entitled to it because the capsules were built there at a Chilean navy workshop.

Three capsules were assigned for the rescue operation, but only two were used. They were named after the mythological bird reborn from the ashes.

The other two capsules were not used but are also to be displayed. One has already been sent to China, where it will be exhibited at the Chilean Pavilion at Expo Shanghai.

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