'Alive' survivors urge miners to stay strong

'Alive' survivors urge miners to stay strong

Former rugby players who survived more than two months after a plane crash in the Andes today met relatives of 33 trapped Chilean miners and urged them to stay strong.

“They will be out soon,” said Jose Inciarte, one of the four crash survivors visiting the San Jose copper and gold mine in northern Chile.

“The whole world is with them.”

The men communicated with miners by video, urging them to appreciate the relative good fortune that nobody died in the partial tunnel collapse on August 5. They said that they were moved by the miners’ bravery.

“There is little similar between our story and theirs,” Inciarte said. “Theirs is more beautiful because they are all alive.”

Fellow survivor Gustavo Servino said to the extent possible the miners should “enjoy themselves.”

“Nobody died,” he said.

After speaking with the miners, the men presented a Uruguayan flag, which they said they would leave at the camp as a symbol of Latin American solidarity. “Viva, Chile!” they yelled.

Inciarte and Servino were among 16 Uruguayans who survived a plane crash in the snow-covered Andes in 1972. They waited 72 days to be rescued, and some were forced to eat the flesh of friends killed in the crash to stay alive. Their story inspired the book and film “Alive.”

Just a handful of miners’ relatives received the Uruguayans; many have started to come and go as rescuers pursue what could be a months-long process of digging a tunnel big enough to extract the miners.

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