More than 70 Chilean miners have suspended a strike over unpaid wages during which they blocked themselves inside a shaft deep underground and refused food and water.
After two weeks of protest at the Santa Ana mine in central Bio Bio region, the miners emerged from the shaft late Tuesday, walking and carrying a Chilean flag amid applause from fellow workers outside the site.
Chilean officials proposed a program to meet the miners’ demands that included training courses and support payments, debt payments and other social benefits, according to union chief Luis Chandia.
"Each one of these workers came out uneventfully, in good health; it seems an excellent deal," said Mines Minister Aurora Williams, who participated in negotiations with the miners.
The workers were taken to a local hospital for medical evaluations.
Earlier, the miners had blocked off and demolished all entrances to the site. They also refused food or water and had no means of communication as they huddled 3,000 feet underground.
It is the second mining strike in recent months in Chile, the country in which 33 miners were famously trapped below ground – but survived – in an accident that captured the world's attention in 2010.
Earlier this month, copper miners ended a strike in which they had blocked roads to mines to demand higher wages. One worker was killed by police in the 23-day protest.
The Santa Ana strike, which started on Aug. 11, saw a total of 73 miners initially burrowing 2,100 feet to demand their wages, which they say have gone unpaid since June.
Chandia said Monday they then upped the ante by descending to 3,000 feet, where he worried they could face health problems and oxygen shortages.
The blockaded coal miners had vowed to stay underground until their wages were paid.
The mine is located in Curanilahue in central Chile, some 370 miles south of the capital Santiago. It employs more than 170 people.
It is operated by a consortium owned by two local businessmen, Rodrigo Danus and Paul Fontaine, but they say they have sold it and are not responsible for the dispute.
The government has provided financial support to the miners' families and brought legal proceedings on their behalf.