Chilean miners on Holy Land pilgrimage

2011-02-23 21:30
Jerusalem - Two dozen of the Chilean miners, hailed as heroes after spending 69 days trapped underground, arrived in Israel on Wednesday for a visit that will see them follow in Jesus' footsteps.

The 24 miners, many of them accompanied by family members, landed in Tel Aviv for an eight-day visit as guests of the Israel tourism ministry.

The tour will focus heavily on Christian sites, with the miners due to visit the Via Dolorosa, the Church of Holy Sepulchre and the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem on Thursday, the ministry said.

They will also visit Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank, before heading north to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee where some of them will be baptised, it said.

The miners, who survived a gruelling 69-day ordeal trapped in a caved-in gold and copper mine, will meet Israeli President Shimon Peres and spend some time at the Dead Sea.

During the visit, they will also be taken to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

Since their dramatic rescue, which turned them into international celebrities, the miners have visited Hollywood and Beverly Hills, marched with Mickey Mouse at Disney World and travelled to England to watch a Premier League game between Manchester United and Arsenal.

But their story also has a darker side.

Nearly all of the miners have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since their rescue.

Some have recounted how they contemplated suicide while trapped underground, while others said they were days away from cannibalism before rescuers made contact with them.

- SAPA
Read more on:    israel  |  chile  |  chile trapped miners
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