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    Chile's 33 freed miners throw a party


    by ODN


    The 33 Chileans who spent 70 days deep in the bowels of a mine have continued their whirlwind tour of fresh celebrity with a party thrown by an eccentric millionaire in Caldera.

    Many of the miners wore suits on Tuesday night, a far cry from the images of the men bearded and shirtless as they waited a half mile underground in the small gold and copper mine in northern Chile, just outside Copiapo.

    The party was thrown by millionaire businessman Leonardo Farkas, a mining magnate who has been among the generous donors who helped with rescue effort and continued giving money after the miners were above ground.

    Rescued miner Edison Pena was overcome with emotion while trying to describe his feelings: "I never went out looking for this. I found it by accident. So, I ..." Pena said before starting to cry.

    The party was held at an old train station in the coastal city of Caldera. Luis Urzua, the shift supervisor who later became the ad hoc leader as the men fought for survival in the 17 days before being found by a rescue drill, thanked Farkas for his generosity.

    Reports say the Bolivian miner Mamani, the only of the men from outside Chile, asked Farkas to be the godfather of his baby and Farkas accepted.

    Farkas also handed out money to some, including $10,000 to Esperanza, the baby born to Ariel Ticona while he was trapped underground. Several miners were promised new homes.

    Miner Claudio Yanes took advantage of the party to propose marriage to Cristina Nunez, his girlfriend of 10 years. At least two of the men proposed marriage via letters sent up the narrow bore hole at the mine and now a total of five have decided to marry.