Thirty-three women shut themselves in a mine in Chile on Tuesday to protest the removal of a work programme aiding victims of an earthquake and tsunami, in a nod to the rescue of 33 miners here last month.
The women, wearing work uniforms and miners' helmets, descended some 500 meters (1,600 feet) into the 900 meter-deep Chiflon del Diablo, or Draft of the Devil, a former coal mine which is now a tourist attraction, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Santiago.
The women had been part of a work programme set up for victims of a massive February 27 earthquake and tsunami to help them rebuild their communities and remove rubble, they told local journalists.
They threatened to start a hunger strike down the mine to persuade authorities to reconsider the programme, which employed some 12,000 people, in the 2011 budget which is currently being discussed in Congress.
"We've done many things to be taken into account but the government hasn't listened to us, so they're obliging us to take measures of force," said Brigida Lara, a colleague of the miners who spoke to the web site of La Tercera daily at the top of the mine.
The women were inspired by the mining disaster-turned-miracle of 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months before being rescued from the San Jose mine, in northern Chile, in October.