Some of the 33 miners who were rescued last week after 69 days trapped underground returned yesterday for an emotionally charged religious service at the northern Chilean mine that almost became their tomb.

The miners, their families and friends attended an interfaith ceremony, led by clergy from several religions at the mouth of the San Jose copper and gold mine from which they were hoisted to freedom Wednesday in a flawless rescue operation watched around the world.

The private service was held in the area known as “Camp Hope,” the tent city where family members gathered to pray and await news about their husbands, sons and fathers trapped for more than two months at 2,050 feet underground.

“The ceremony was beautiful,” said Mario Gomez, who at 63 is the oldest of the 33 men. “We always had faith that we were going to get out. Now it is time to rest.”

The service was closed to the press. During the ceremony, participants could be heard clapping loudly and singing hymns and Chile’s national anthem.

As they sang, some relatives finished packing up their tents, preparing to leave “Camp Hope” behind. Miner Dario Segovia, the 20th to be rescued, came out to help them.

Miners mum about the ordeal

So far, the miners have not revealed many of the details of what it was really like after the cave-in left them huddled together in a dark and damp cavern. Some are talking about saving their stories for a book about those 69 hellish days.

Gomez’s daughter said he has not talked about the worst moments and the family has not pressed him to open up.

“I want to know everything,” Romina Gomez, 20, said. “But we don’t want to ask him.”
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