More than half of the 33 miners trapped for more than two months in a mine in Chile returned to the surface Wednesday after the safe recovery of a 17th man, electrician, 56-year-old Omar Reygadas.
The miners trapped for more than two months in Chile continued one by one to find the light on Wednesday, welcomed as heroes by their families and the world fascinated by a rescue without a hitch.
The first man was rescued shortly after midnight. Florencio Avalos, 31 years old, hugged his seven year old child, Byron, and his wife Monica.
He gave a hug to the First Lady Cecilia Morel and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who praised the rescue operation “without comparison in the history of mankind.”
Each time a man came out of the mine, after 622 m ascent in the nacelle Phoenix, cries of joy and applause erupted in the “Camp Hope”, where their parents and relatives waiting for the miners since the day after the accident that has trapped at the bottom of the mine on August 5.
“I changed, I am a different man,” shouted Mario Gomez, 63, who was apparently in good shape despite his lung problems – the president Pinera, who came to welcome him with his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales.
“On behalf of the Bolivian government, I do not know how to thank you,” said Morales, who came to meet his compatriot Carlos Mamani, the only foreigner of “33″.
The Head of State Barack Obama, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva or the French government also welcomed the bailout.
The rescued miners’ health is “good enough”, said the Health Minister Jaime Manalich. “Things are going amazingly well so far (…) even better than expected,” he added.
The most expansive of “33″ was Mario Sepulveda, 39, who jumped like a kid and distributing the vast amusement of small shiny rocks from the depths of the mine to the President and the Minister of Mines.
Fourteen other men, including the youngest of the group Jimmy Sanchez, 19, are then removed from the bowels of the earth aboard the capsule to the colors of the Chilean flag, known as Phoenix in reference to the rebirth of minors.
Near the mine, the media throng was upbeat at the output of the first minor, with scenes of boxing. It then decreased in intensity, allowing families to enjoy these unique moments.
Families have lived 17 days of anguish, until a probe began Aug. 22 message scribbled on a piece of paper, now famous: “We’re fine, the 33 in the refuge.”
After the initial hugs, juveniles were placed on stretchers, then auscultated in a field hospital there. They were then transferred by helicopter to the hospital in Copiapo, 50 km, 48 hours of medical examinations.
The last man out should be the “captain” of the group, the shift manager Luis Urzua, 54.
In addition 800 families, parents and more than 2,000 journalists have rushed to the happy ending of this saga underground unprecedented Wednesday made headlines around the world.
In two months, the “33″ have become global celebrities, receiving autographed jerseys of football stars, rosaries blessed by Pope Benedict XVI, iPods offered by Apple boss Steve Jobs, to help them take over their ordeal, which is already inspiring filmmakers.
CNN, FOX MSNBC and other major networks continue live coverage of the rescue.