Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Chilean miner to visit Northern Ireland

Jose Henriquez, left, greats an unidentified woman after being rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile

Chilean miner Jose Henriquez is expected to recall his remarkable story of survival to a much more intimate audience when he visits Northern Ireland next month.

The 54-year-old preacher, who was the 24th man miraculously rescued from the San Jose shaft last October, has been invited to the province as the special guest at an Anglican church event.

He is due to address the South American Missions Society Ireland’s Friday Night Live gathering in Craigavon Civic Centre on February 4.

Jose was one of the 33 Chilean miners whose amazing rescue last October captured the attention of the world. The men were all trapped 2,300ft below the surface for 69 days after a rockfall in the copper and gold mine caused a tunnel to collapse.

At first they were feared dead but after 17 days it was discovered the miners had been able to |survive on food already stored in the emergency shelter.

Each man lived on two spoonfuls of tuna, a sip of milk, a bite of crackers and a small amount of peaches every other day until |supplies were sent down.

Once the miners could be reached from the surface, rescuers sent hydration gel, soup and medication in plastic tubes down a six-inch diameter borehole.

Doctors also put them on a solid diet of meat and rice, with a strict diet to ensure they were slim enough to fit in the 66cm wide evacuation shaft.

During some of the most difficult days Jose, the miners’ official pastor, provided inspiration and hope. He organised daily prayer sessions and offered spiritual guidance to help his colleagues through their bleakest hours.

Joining Jose will be his wife Blanca, who endured an agonising wait at Camp Hope, the temporary settlement erected at the pit head.

Accompanying and translating for the couple will be Alf Cooper, chaplain to the President of Chile, who led his nation’s prayers and those on site for the miners’ rescue.

Geoff Hamilton, organiser of the event in Co Armagh, said he hoped the visit would be inspirational.

“It is absolutely fantastic to get Jose over here,” he said.

“It’s a good news story and we are so pleased to be able to welcome him to Craigavon.”

Jose will be in Craigavon Civic Centre at 7.30pm on February 4 and in Shankill Parish Church, Lurgan, at 10.30am on February 6. For more information visit: www.samsireland.com.

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