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Chile miners: Two trapped miners reach surface in Chile rescue [UPDATED]

[UPDATED 9:24 p.m.: The first two of 33 miners trapped for 69 days in a collapsed mine half a mile underground have reached the surface.

Florencio Avalos, 31, a foreman, was winched to freedom first inside a slim capsule pulled through the 28-inch-wide shaft that had been drilled to reach the men’s underground refuge. He emerged to ecstatic cheers from rescue workers and the families of the miners, but was shielded from the view of the reporters who had arrived from around the world to cover the dramatic event.

Next came Mario Sepulveda Espina, who hugged his wife and President Sebastian Pinera, and handed out some rocks he brought up with him.]

The other miners are expected to be rescued at a rate of about one an hour, barring accidents or obstacles. The plan is to have the last of the miners on the surface within two days. Luis Urzua, 54, who emerged as the leader of the miners during the ordeal, is to be the last out.  

Miners’ relatives, government officials and media representatives all eagerly awaited the first sign of a successful rescue on what was the 69th day of captivity for the men. President Sebastian Pinera arrived at the mine Tuesday to see the rescue efforts and greet the miners.

“We made a promise to never surrender and we kept it,” Pinera said.

As relatives waited for details about when their loved ones were to be hoisted up aboard the Phoenix rescue capsule, they said they were allowing themselves to feel an enormous sense of relief.

Juan Alcalipe, whose son-in-law Osma Araya, 30, was among the trapped miners, said he was excited to be so close to the end of a nightmare. Araya, he said, won’t be returning to work at the mine.

“My daughter won't let him,” Alcalipe said.

Near the rescue site were containers that were to serve as a makeshift clinic, where for two hours the miners are to receive first aid if needed and be given the chance to shower and change clothes.

Farther up a steep incline, past enormous cranes and other equipment used in the rescue effort, were a half-dozen container-like structures where miners were to be reunited with their families.

Earlier, Golborne said he was not ready to declare “mission accomplished” despite his confidence in the rescue preparations. He said officials hoped that at least one of the miners would be out of the mine before the end of the day Tuesday.

-- Chris Kraul in Copiapo, Chile

Photo: Mariana Bazo / Reuters

Comments () | Archives (13)

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From Houston**** We were watching and we are so happy that everyone made it out! May the Lord bless you and your families...... To all that helped with the rescue " You will never be forgotten " The Lord will bless you twice for your caring and hard work.

Great for Chile and the rest of the world.

It has been great to see undoubted commitment from the Govt and Mine officials. And the transparenecy surrounding the hoisting of the miners is truly admirable. This is as it should be. And Mario Sepulveda is one hell of a noisy rescuee!! Bravo

I hope our local mines and the govt learns one or two things from the Chilean experience.

This is a multi-national effort. Specialized equipment from China, South Africa, Russia, the US and other nations rushed to the scene without any political interference was amazing. The marshalling of both great minds and great skilled technicians has resulted in what appears to be a historic success. This is a great example of what we as a global unit could accomplish if we could just put our national differences aside. The sharing of technolgy, skills and equipment was amazing.

I am very proud of my country, we have been rated as the most caring in the world, I have no words to describe the great joy that people share in Chile. I would love that miners leave this in history as a humanitarian act that will be remembered by all. Vivaaaaa Chileee!!!!!!

This world today you cant find a job without anybody that cares about you in high office! America was watching, And do what we can in ANY country, even though we are broke! I know you have to do what you have to do there to make a living....Thank You for what you do.... MIDWEST! Heart of America

Greetings from Sweden. We are pleased that you may come out now.
To the rescue workers, you have done a wonderful job. We love you all <3

Easily the Most Positive & Enlightening News Story for a Really Long Time ~ 'Echele Chile...!

I deeply thank God for this successful rescue activity! I's a sign of salvation and we have to consider it strongly. Let all our brothers fully escape such strange disaster!!!

This is a real exodus!

Reminiscent of the Baby Jessica story...

Very exciting!
Kudos to all involved - especially the drilling expert!

It's so great that the rescue worked. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of the rescues go quickly and smoothly.

After a very long 69 days, the World anxiously watches as The first Chillean Miner, Florencio, takes the 2200 foot ride in what has been dubbed "The Phoenix". I sit here and watch, what is understandable a very emotional night for his family, as they waited anxiously with the President and his Wife by their side for a very brave man to emerge from what has been his and the other 33 miners prison for over two months. As he stepped out of the rescue capsule, into a large croud of rescue workers, the President, his Wife, and his family, Florencio's young son ran up to his dad for the first of what is sure to be many hugs and kisses. Thank God for the rescue workers who have persevered through this very difficult rescue. I hope that this horrible event will teach all of us a lesson in hope and kindness and I pray that the many mining companys will heed this is a warning and prevent any further disasters to happen in the many mines and drilling sites around the world.

Finally they will be able to see their family.

Viva la Chile!


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About the Reporters
Ken Ellingwood
Daniel Hernandez
Efrain Hernandez Jr.
Chris Kraul
Richard Marosi
Tracy Wilkinson