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Chilean miner gets hitched

posted 11 Apr 2011, 11:35 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Apr 2011, 11:37 ]

After promising his partner a church wedding while trapped in Chile's San Jose mine last year, Esteban Rojas finally ties the knot at the altar.

COPIAPO, CHILE (FILE - AUGUST 22, 2010) REUTERS - It was a happy reunion on Saturday (April 9) for one of Chile's previously trapped miners and the Mining Minister who oversaw the dramatic October rescue.

Forty-four-year-old Esteban Rojas married his long-time companion Jessica Yanez in a church ceremony

with Mining Minister Laurence Golborne giving the bride away.

Rojas was one of the 33 miners trapped deep in a northern Chilean gold and copper mine for two months and proposed to Yanez, his partner of 25 years, from the depths of the mine.

"I am really happy. When Esteban and Jessica decided to get married while he was still trapped in the mine they asked me to give Jessica away, and I immediately said yes. So the months have passed and here we are, as it should be," Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne, who also serves as the Energy Minister, said.

Golborne became a regular presence at the mine throughout the duration of the crisis and greeted each miner as they were lifted out during the risky rescue operation watched worldwide.

Rojas was the 18th miner to be rescued.

"I am very proud to be here and I am here to fulfill a promise I made to my woman and I am fulfilling that promise so I am very happy. Very happy," Rojas said.

Rojas and Yanez had a civil marriage 25 years ago, but never organized a church wedding.

The bride said that in a way they were celebrating their silver anniversary.

"I am proud, it has been 25 years which I think is the silver anniversary so this is a way of celebrating that and showing to the world that love can happen for everyone, Yanez said.

Various other familiar faces attended the ceremony at a Catholic church in Copiapo, a town near the notorious mine, located some 830 kilometres north of San Jose.

A handful of the 33 other miners were there for the special day.

"They are a really lovely couple and we are trying to be there for our companions whenever they have an important event so if my buddy is getting married then that is why I am here," said Yonni Barrios, another miner who was trapped in the San Jose mine.

The couple has three children.