Chilean miners considered cannibalism

February 15, 2011 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Feb 15 – The trapped Chilean miners contemplated suicide and were days away from cannibalism before rescuers made contact with them, according to a new book.

Veteran American journalist Jonathan Franklin writes in "33 Men" that nearly all of the miners have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since being rescued last fall after 69 days deep underground.

They had to survive on dwindling rations of tuna in the first 16 days after the mine collapsed.

"Food, or no food, I was going to get out of there," Mario Sepulveda told CBS television\’s "60 Minutes" in a Sunday broadcast.

"How? I had to think about which miner was going to collapse first and then I started thinking about how I was going to eat him, I promise you, I wasn\’t embarrassed, I wasn\’t scared."

But on the 17th day, rescuers made contact when a drill punched through the ceiling of the shaft in the San Jose Mine.

"They told me that they had a pot and a saw ready," Franklin said.

Victor Zamora said he and the other miners became so desperate that they strongly considered taking their own lives.

"Well, if we\’re going to continue suffering, it would be better for us to all go to the shelter, start an engine and with the carbon monoxide, just let ourselves go," he said he thought at the time.

Zamora said he didn\’t consider it as suicide: "It was to not continue suffering. We were going to die anyway."

Their dramatic rescue captivated the world as it was beamed on live television across the globe.

Franklin, who has worked in Chile for the past 16 years, had exclusive access to the miners and interviewed all 33 of them for his book.


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