Sat, Jan 01, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Four of the rescued Chilean miners lose their disability pay

NO MORE CASH:After their 69-day ordeal deep in the mine, many of the miners traveled abroad, preventing them from attending their checkups

AFP, SANTIAGO

Four of the 33 miners rescued from a caved-in Chilean mine have lost their disability pay for failing to undergo medical checks because of constant trips abroad as they have enjoyed their newfound fame.

The miners became global media stars following the Oct. 13 rescue that gripped the world. Invitations for media appearances and endorsements have flooded in, and their exploits are reportedly being considered for a movie.

Omar Reygadas, Edison Pena — who practiced for the New York City marathon while trapped deep underground with his colleagues — Dario Segovia and Carlos Bugueno lost their medical leave payments, officials said.

“Article 33 of the work accident law clearly states that if the worker does not comply with medical instructions, he will be suspended from the allotted payments,” said Jorge Diaz, medical director for the Chilean Insurance Association (ACHS), which is treating the miners.

After their 69-day ordeal deep in the San Jose mine, many of the miners traveled abroad to tell their story, preventing them from attending their required checkups.

Reygadas, who has since dedicated his time to delivering motivational speeches, criticized the move, saying most of his colleagues have yet to recover psychologically.

“Ours are not physical, but psychological problems,” he said, adding that the ACHS should provide disability pay for “psychological problems” — which would not prevent travel — rather than solely for “work accidents.”

“With a psychological problems leave, we can go anywhere, it’s like therapy, but the ACHS has not provided it,” Reygadas said.

Twenty-six of the rescued miners traveled to Britain to watch a Dec. 13 soccer match between Manchester United and Arsenal.

In November, the entire group toured Hollywood and Beverly Hills as guests of CNN and in October, four of them visited Madrid.

All 33 are scheduled to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, on Jan. 26 with four relatives each.

Immediately after the rescue, the miners were given a medical checkup, then put on leave while they received psychological treatment from the ACHS, the worker’s non-profit insurance group. They are still drawing their salaries.

Earlier this month, 14 of the miners completed their treatment. Alberto Iturra, one of the psychologists, said that the men were healthy enough to return to work.

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