Eleven Chilean Miners Rescued: Miners and Media Rejoice

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Photo: Hugo Infante/AFP/Getty Images

After 69 days, eleven of the Chilean miners have been rescued from a "dark, hot purgatory 2,000 feet underground." Each emerged from a rocket-shaped capsule that transported them to the surface. The men were greeted by joyful rescuers and the sight of Chilean president Sebastian Pinera, in moisture-resistant green coveralls and sunglasses, beaming down at them. A rescue worker reached the miners just past 10 p.m. EST last night. The first miner to escape, Florencio Avalos, took sixteen minutes to reach the top. As he was hoisted up, one of the rescuers shouted, "Chile's first astronaut is arriving!" Mario Sepulveda, the second miner rescued, brought rocks with him from the depths of the copper and gold mine. The fourth miner, Carlos Mamani, kissed and hugged his wife so exuberantly that he knocked off her hard hat. Each man was greeted with the patriotic cheer, "Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!" and given a red, white, and blue Chilean flag. The operation, which was broadcast live, had Chilean citizens cheering in the streets.

The story of the miners' struggle, from doling out spoonfuls of tuna fish to survive the early days to surface-side tensions between a wife and a mistress to a curious decision to screen Benjamin Button to people trapped underground, has captivated the public. There were 750 journalists covering the mission, but by rescue time, that number ballooned to 1,300, each seeking out heroes like shift captain Luiz Urzua, who was credited with helping his men survive before rescuers could send down food. Urzua will be the last miner rescued, but he's still concerned with good behavior. He told the Guardian by phone that before he's brought to surface, he'll try to tidy up, saying, "We don't have any place to put the garbage."

Chile miners rescue: Ten Chilean miners rescued after 69 days underground [NYDN]
Chile mine rescue underway; 11 hoisted safely to surface [WP]
Trapped 68 Days, First Chilean Miners Taste Freedom [NYT]