'Fear of death, hopelessness, fist fights were rampant among trapped Chilean miners'

London, Oct 15(ANI): One of the 33 rescued Chilean miners, Richard Villaroel, has painted a more complex picture of the 69-day drama than the official version which had dominated international media coverage.

Villaroel revealed that there was the waiting for death, the hopelessness and the unspoken fear of cannibalism during the first 17 days of the San Jose mine collapse.

"We were getting eaten up, as we were working. We were moving, but not eating well. We started to eat ourselves up and get skinnier and skinnier. That is called cannibalism, a sailor down there said. My body was eating itself up," the Guardian quoted Villaroel, as saying.

Villaroel, who has lost 12kilograms, further said that the miners only had food stocks for daily consumption of about half a spoonful of tuna or salmon.

"We talked about it at the first meeting we had when we were trapped. We all agreed that we would all share the food that was there. You just had to rough it. Every 24 hours eat a small piece of tuna. Nothing else," the miner said.

He further said that the water in the mine, which the men had to drink, was polluted.

"It had a bad taste. It had lots of oil, from the machines, but you had to drink it," he said.

Meanwhile, Daniel Sanderson, a miner on the surface, said that he had received a letter from one of the trapped men describing disagreements escalating into physical confrontations.

"They broke into three groups because they were fighting. There were fist fights," Sanderson said.

The last of the trapped miners was raised from the depths of the earth on Wednesday.

An estimated 700,000 tonnes of rock collapsed inside the 121-year-old mine in the historically significant mining accident on August 5.

Rescue officials led by a senior United States mine engineer had earlier estimated that it would take three to four months to complete the rescue.

However, the rescue exceeded expectations every step of the way, as it turned out to be 69 days and about eight hours.

Once the escape tunnel was finished, they estimated that it would take 36 to 48 hours to get all the miners to safety, but as the operation went along all the miners were evacuated in 22 hours and 37 minutes. (ANI)

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