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Wedding bells for five of Chile's rescued miners

Five of Chile's 33 rescued miners are to have church weddings after surviving for more than two months trapped underground.
Image: Trapped miner Esteban Rojas hugs his wife as he prays after reaching the surface to become the 18th to be rescued from the San Jose mine in Copiapo
Trapped miner Esteban Rojas hugs his wife Jessica Yanez after reaching the surface on October 13. They are now to be married in church, 25 years after their civil ceremony.Hugo Infante / Government of Chile via Reuters file
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Five of Chile's 33 rescued miners are to have church weddings after surviving for more than two months trapped underground.

On bended knee, the miners proposed to their girlfriends — and wives — at a party in the seaside town of Caldera in far northern Chile late on Tuesday.

It was the group's first public reunion since their dramatic rescue last week after 69 days below ground.

"After these 10 years we've spent together, now it's time for us to get married," miner Claudio Yanez told his girlfriend, Cristina Nunez, during the gathering, which was held in a converted railway station.

During his ordeal underground, miner Esteban Rojas had vowed to marry his wife in church 25 years after their civil ceremony.

He sent the proposal to the surface in a letter tucked into a plastic tube used to shuttle provisions to keep the men alive until they were rescued.

"I told my wife that if I got out of there alive, I'd get married in a church," Rojas said.

"I accept. I've still got the letter to hold you to it," joked his wife, Jessica Yanez.

But though some of his fellow miners were set to take the plunge, Yonni Barrios, 50, still appeared earlier this week to be juggling at least two women.

'Mine and no one else's'Barrios, who was designated as the group's doctor while underground to give injections and take blood samples, became the butt of jokes among the miners because he had more than one woman in his life: an estranged wife and a girlfriend with whom he has lived for more than a decade, along with her children.

At one point during the ordeal, both women appeared near the mouth of the mine, apparently to claim some of the money they thought would be paid out after the accident.

that Barrios romanced a third woman, citing an interview with Barrios's girlfriend, Susana Valenzuela, on Colombian radio.

She told the station that she had to stop the third woman, 25, from visiting the hospital where Barrios stayed after his rescue.

"He is my Yonni Barrios — mine and no one else's," Valenzuela said, according to the report.

Barrios's complicated love life might even earn him a paycheck, with Fox News reporting that an online dating service for people seeking to have an extramarital affair — — offered Barrios $100,000 to be the site's Spanish-language spokesman.

The Fox report said a stipulation of the contract is that Barrios stays married to his wife — but Valenzuela hasn't seemed to bat an eye at his marital status.

Valenzuela has taken to calling him Tarzan, regarding him as courageous and valiant, a man who has survived extraordinary odds.

"How great that my Tarzan is returning home, I am waiting for him in a thong," reads a sign taped the fence in front of his house.

In the days before the workers were rescued one-by-one in a specially built capsule painted in the red, white and blue of Chile's flag, the wives of many miners got their hair and nails done and bought new satin lingerie that was shown on local television in anticipation of long-awaited reunions.

The miners' rescue one-by-one in an escape capsule hoisted through a narrow shaft 2,050 feet long and just wider than a man's shoulders, captured the world's imagination and has turned the men into celebrities, though some are still grappling with the psychological trauma of their ordeal.