Miner Yonni Barrios Emerges from Shaft, Greeted by His Mistress

Yonni Barrios was the 21st miner rescued from the mine in Copiapo, Chile.

ByEmily Friedman
October 13, 2010, 10:51 AM

Oct. 13, 2010 — -- Chilean miner Yonni Barrios emerged this afternoon from the underground shaft where he had been trapped for months and straight into the arms of his mistress, not those of his wife of 28 years.

His wife had said she would not attend his rescue after discovering that Barrios had been cheating on her with a lover for years.

When Barrios stepped out of the mineshaft, Susana Valenzuela was there to greet him emotionally, kissing him and hugging him while she sobbed. Barrios stood stoically but did not appear to be overly affectionate in return.

Barrios' wife, 56-year-old Marta Salinas, had said earlier that she would not attend his rescue after discovering that he had been seeing Valenzuela on the sly for years.

"I'm happy because he was saved. It's a miracle from God. But I won't attend the rescue," Salinas told South American newspaper Clarin.

Barrios was the 21st miner rescued from the mine, located in the northern Chilean city of Copiapo, 500 miles north of Santiago. The mine collapsed on Aug. 5, trapping 33 miners until rescue workers were able to bore a 28-inch diameter hole, a project that took two months.

The only miner with any sort of medical training, Barrios had become the de facto doctor while underground, helping rescuers gauge the degree of psychological and physical maladies of the trapped men.

Family members have held vigils for their loved ones since the collapse, many rushing to greet the miners as they arrive at the top of the shaft in a metal capsule known as "The Phoenix."

For full coverage of the miners' rescue, stay tuned to ABC News. Watch "World News" at 6:30 p.m. ET, then "A Special Edition of 20/20: Miracle at the Mine," anchored by Diane Sawyer at 10 p.m. ET, and a special edition of "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET.

But greeting Barrios wasn't of interest to Salinas, who discovered her husband's mistress during one of those vigils when she spotted Valenzuela crying and calling out her husband's name. Salinas says that as long as her husband is safe, she is content leaving him.

"In phone conversations and letters he's sent to me it's clear that he's fine and that's enough for me," she said.

It is not clear whether Barrios' mistress will be at the minehole to greet him.

Chilean Miner Yonni Barrios' Secret Lover Was Discovered While He Was Trapped

Salinas had originally said she was devoted to her husband, according to early Chilean media reports, but had a change of heart when Barrios, who was permitted to choose three people to meet him at the mouth of the mineshaft, requested that his mistress be there to greet him as well.

"He asked me to come, but it turns out he also invited the other woman and I have decency," said Salinas. "This is very clear: It's her or me."

Barrios emerged from the mine at approximately 3:30 p.m. EST.

"The state is aware of my problem and the First Lady (Cecilia Morel) told me there was nothing wrong with my decision not to go, to let her (the other woman) go without problems," said Salinas.

One woman who is sure to be at the site when Barrios emerges is his sister, Zulemy Barrios.

Zulemy Barrios told the BBC that she has been overwhelmed with emotion as she waits, stealing a moment to herself.

"I just needed to be alone. I needed to get away from everyone, even my daughter, who has been my rock of support," Zulemy Barrios said, lighting a candle near Barrios' flag, a makeshift memorial to each of the 33 miners.

Not expecting the video of miners down below when the capsule reached them Tuesday night, Zulemy Barrios told BBC that she was "lost for words" when she saw her brother.

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