22 hour rescue ends with trapped miners brought to surface

by Alister POOLE on October 14, 2010

Relatives holding vigil at the site where 33 Chilean miners have been trapped for almost 70 days, waiting anxiously as the men were finally brought to the surface throughout Tuesday night.

In a 22-hour rescue operation, the miners, beginning with Florencio Avalos, 31, were brought to the surface one at a time. Dubbed ‘Los 33’, the group of miners were placed one by one into a cramped metal capsule, the Phoenix 2, and hauled back up to the surface.

The miners, who have been trapped nearly half a mile underground since the San Jose copper mineshaft collapsed more than two months ago, have caught the attention of the world with their story. Relatives watched the rescue on a screen in the makeshift camp set up. Each miner was monitored for panic as they were brought to the surface.

On hand was Chile’s President, Sebastian Pinera to greet the ‘heroic’ miners. Saying that the nation would not soon forget this day, Mr Pinera called the event emotional and full of joy.

By 10pm Wednesday night, the final trapped worker, 52-year old foreman Luis Urzua was brought to the surface. By the end was hauling up miners up at a rate of every 25 minutes. Rescue workers gave each miner a pep talk along with a pair of sunglasses and an oxygen mask prior to sending them up to the surface.

Around half of the trapped men were taken to Copiago hospital, where they were fed their first meal of rice, yoghurt and chicken. All 33 of the men are being treated with ailments ranging from dental problems, eye problems and the eldest miner, aged 63, thought to have pneumonia.

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