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SAN JOSE MINE, Chile (AP) — Chile's 33 rescued miners posed with the president and were poked by doctors on Thursday, itching to reunite with families and sleep in their own beds for the first time since a cave-in nearly killed them on Aug. 5.
Relatives were organizing welcome-home parties and trying to hold off an onslaught of demands by those seeking to share in the glory of the amazing rescue that entranced people around the world and set off horn-blowing celebrations across this South American nation.
President Sebastian Pinera posed with the miners, most of whom were wearing bathrobes and slippers, for a group photo, and then celebrated the rescue as an achievement that will bring Chile a new level of respect around the world.
The miners and the country will never be the same, Pinera said.
"They have experienced a new life, a rebirth," he said, and so has Chile: "We aren't the same that we were before the collapse on Aug. 5. Today Chile is a country much more unified, stronger and much more respected and loved in the entire world."
The billionaire businessman-turned-politician also promised "radical" changes and tougher safety laws to improve how businesses treat their workers.
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