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Miners hire accountant and keep mum for now

/ Source: NBC, and news services

Just two of the "los 33" miners remained hospitalized Friday, after 28 were released during the day and as word emerged that the men want to closely guard their story so they can fairly divide the spoils of their media stardom.

That could explain why none of them have spoken publicly at any length or provided any dramatic details of their 69 days trapped a half-mile beneath the Atacama desert.

A daughter of Omar Reygadas, a 56-year-old electrician, said he told her the miners agreed to divide all their earnings from interviews, media appearances, movies or books.

"He also said we can't say things to the media without their permission," said Ximena Alejandra Reygadas, 37. "He said they need to decide what we can tell the media."

A shift foreman at the San Jose Mine who is close to many of the rescued miners told AP they have hired an accountant to track their income from public appearances and equitably distribute it.

"More than anything, I think the idea is to charge for the rights to everything that's been shown about their personal life, of their odyssey. That way, they're safe," said Pablo Ramirez.

Ramirez, 29, had lowered himself deep into the mine's bowels right after its Aug. 5 collapse in a failed attempt to reach his comrades.

"They're going to be very close to the chest and will speak together as a group," he said, while drinking rum and cola in a Copiapo restaurant.

Ramirez is out of a job with the roughly 360 other San Jose miners now that the government has decided to close the mine as unsafe. And while he said he's got good job prospects as an experienced miner, "los 33" were probably the most in-demand people on the planet.

The two who remain hospitalized were expected to be transferred to other health facilities at some point. Three others were released Thursday.

New details on food rations Based on new details the miners shared Thursday with their families, the rationing appears to have been even more extreme than previously thought.

"He told me they only had 10 cans of tuna to share, and water, but it isn't true the thing about milk, because it was bad, out of date," Alberto Segovia said after visiting his brother Dario, who worked a jackhammer in the mine.

Other family members were told the tuna amounted to about half a capful from the top of a soda bottle — and that the only water they could drink tasted of oil.

The miners told relatives Thursday their rescue ride was as smooth as a skyscraper elevator. The rescue had been planned meticulously to provide the utmost safety.

But the miners and rescuers decided on Wednesday to discard a few safety measures and the media were never informed. For instance, the plan to monitor the miners' faces for panic with live video on the way up — and to have them in constant two-way communication with rescuers — was jettisoned at the last minute.

Rescuers abandoned both the in-capsule camera and fiber-optic cable that would have had to hang all the way down to the bottom of the 2,040-foot hole.

The men said they would be fine and just wanted out, said Fabricio Morales, a technician with Micomo, the telecommunications division of the state mining company Codelco that ran the rescue operation.

The cause of the collapse remains under formal investigation, but one senior Codelco official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to be quoted in the media, told the AP that the mine's owners had cut corners for years. "It lacked even a minimal amount of support beams."

Twenty-seven of the miners are suing the owners.

Rescued miner Edison Pena said outside his house Friday that he's intent on seeing that their experience motivates the mining industry to improve worker safety.

"I don't want to be famous, I'm not fooling around. I don't want this to happen ever again, not in my country nor in the world," Pena said.

Other revelations include word that the men joked about cannibalism — but only after they started to get supplies of food.

The U.K.'s .

Richard Villaroel told the paper that there was an agreement that they would share what food they had after the mine collapsed.

He said their daily ration during the 17 days before a probe reached them from the surface was half a spoonful of tuna or salmon.

"We were getting eaten up, as we were working," Villaroel told the newspaper. "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."

Asked if the men had been worried they would have to start eating each other, Villaroel said: "At that moment no one talked about it. But once [help came] it became a topic of joking, but only once it was over, once they found us. But at the time there was no talk of cannibalism."

The Guardian said Daniel Sanderson, a miner who was not among those trapped, said one of "Los 33" told him in a letter that the men "broke into three groups because they were fighting. There were fist fights."