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Chilean Miners Considered Suicide, Cannibalism

Feb 11, 2011 – 11:49 AM
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Mara Gay

Mara Gay Contributor

The 33 men trapped in a Chilean copper mine were just days away from committing mass suicide or engaging in cannibalism when they were contacted by rescue crews, the miners have revealed.

In a "60 Minutes" interview set to air Sunday on CBS, the miners say they were prepared for the worst after a mine shaft collapsed around them last August. The men survived for 17 days by carefully rationing their meager emergency supply of food and water. They were down to their last can of tuna when rescue crews discovered they were still alive half a mile below the surface of the Atacama Desert.

Miner Mario Sepulveda said crews made contact with the men just in time, "five or 10 days" before they would have resorted to cannibalism.
Chilean Miners Rescued
Roberto Candia, AP
Mario Sepulveda celebrates after being rescued from a Chilean mine in October. In a new "60 Minutes" interview, Sepulveda says he and his 32 fellow miners were just days away from engaging in cannibalism when they were rescued.

"Food or no food, I was going to get out of there," he tells CBS. "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 wasn't embarrassed, I wasn't scared."

Victor Zamora, another miner, said the men considered killing themselves with carbon monoxide.

The miners' months-long ordeal captivated the world. In October, viewers watched transfixed as the 33 men were pulled thousands of feet back to the surface to their families one by one. But four months later, some of the men say the exhilaration and joy of the rescue has given way to depression.

"Before I went in, I was a happy guy," Zamora tells CBS. "Being trapped, watching my friends around me die, rocks falling ... the other me is still in there."

CBS reports that only one of the miners has reported not suffering from psychological trauma since the rescue.

The "60 Minutes" broadcast is scheduled for Sunday at 7 p.m. EST.
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