Chilean miners on “CNN Heroes” Thanksgiving Day

LOS ANGELES, CA -- The miners who survived two months underground in Chile have been given a rousing reception in Los Angeles at a media interview conducted by CNN.

The 33 miners from Chile and five of the six underground rescuers are in Los Angeles this week for their first groups visit to a foreign country since being freed last month.

They were invited by CNN to attend the networks annual "Heroes" program; An All-Star Tribute, which will air worldwide on Thanksgiving evening, November 25. Organizers invited them as special guests.

On Thursday, the entourage visited Hollywood landmarks such as the Walk of Fame stars on Hollywood Boulevard, including one belonging to Elvis Presley.

It was an appropriate pilgrimage because miner Edison Pena had led sing-along to Elvis music to lift the spirits of fellow miners during the dark ordeal. In fact, he had asked for the music to be sent down into the mine as rescuers drilled a bigger hole to pull the miners out of the ground.

The miners were joined at CNN by Hollywood stars Halle Berry, Renee Zellweger, Kiefer Sutherland, Demi Moore and Kid Rock, with music provided by Bon Jovi.

The men, who have become popular figures since they were rescued last month, told CNN interviewer Anderson Cooper that their entire families had suffered during their time trapped in the mine.

They miners told Anderson Cooper there had been heated moments underground during their 69 days trapped.

The issue of eating caused tension after the miners had agreed to ration canned fish, sometimes as small as a bottle cap a day according to Juan Illanes, 52, an electrical mechanic at the mine.

Illanes said the miners had also felt panic in the collapsed mine, especially when there was no contact with the outside world.

He said: "After a while, we sometimes felt panic, but it wasnt a mass panic. There was always good will among us. We always had meetings, and we did it in a conversational manner, and thats what kept us calm."

He said one of the great hardships of being trapped in the hot; dark mine was having only helmet lamps for illumination.

The 69 days below ground was the longest mining captivity in history.

The miners, who were the subject of a media bidding frenzy after their rescue in mid-October, have been in Los Angeles to sign commercial deals.
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