WHEN Jose Henriquez started work on August 5 last year, he had no idea that he wouldn’t see daylight again for almost 70 days.
He was in Solihull to tell the remarkable story. On his “day-off”, he’s had a hectic time visiting the Grace Academy and meeting the Mayor of Solihull.
The Solihull News spoke to the miner and his translator Alf Cooper.
Last year’s ordeal wasn’t the first time that Jose had a miraculous escape while at work in his native Chile.
“I have survived three previous explosions in my life. There have been fires and floods,” he told us.
“I’ve been saved from landslides when half of my shift were killed, when mudslides swept away the machinery.
“It’s not in my hands to judge why I survived, but you get a sense that God has liberated me.”
But worse was to come, when a cave-in left Jose and 32 colleagues trapped hundreds of metres below ground. The miners had to contend with sweltering conditions of 34 degrees and meagre rations. Did the group ever give up hope?
“There was a moment. A terrible moment when the first drill was coming at us and it was going to hit us, but it went in another direction.
“We got very upset. But we carried on praying, and we heard another drill and we had more hope.
“This accident brought people together in chains of prayers, we had messages from children around the world. It’s like nothing that’s ever happened before.”
He comes from a family of miners - his father and grandfather were in the trade.
“I was trained as a mechanic, but I went down the mine for my family - the need to put soup in the pot,” he laughed.
He and wife Blanca are still talking about whether he’ll be going back down the pits.